Florida A&M made an early tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thursday morning as the Rattler community celebrated the 31st convocation at Gaither Gymnasium in remembrance of King’s birthday.
Dr. David Jackson, Jr. opened up the occasion, saying we should, “Celebrate Dr. King’s memory, but not become complacent.”
The keynote speaker was long-time Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor.
“It’s pleasing that today FAMU is celebrating the life of Dr. King, pausing its activities to bring students and faculty and the whole university community together. I take pride in coming together,” Proctor said.
In 1996, Proctor was elected to the Leon County Board of County Commissioners and currently represents citizens of the county who live in District 1. He was instrumental in the building of FAMU’s B.L. Perry Branch Public Library and the Southside Richardson-Lewis Health Center.
Proctor said, “Dr. King submitted to the calling of his being, and made many sacrifices to become the man he was.”
Proctor then shared his insight on the current state of African-American students.
“It saddens me to see that black students are accused of acting white because they speak correctly and efficiently… Our wings are being clipped by self-imposed mediocrity,” said Proctor.
Proctor reiterated his message several times throughout his speech: “What happens next? Is it our move or someone else’s?”
The FAMU professor said the most important thing for students to remember is to take time to prepare.
“Use your time wisely… recognize the need to prepare for what you do,” said Proctor. “The current generation cannot afford to not learn from previous generations.”
The commemoration included FAMU’s concert choir performing gospel songs, “Hold On,” and “He’ll Never Put More on Me than I Can Bear.”
A special interpretation of King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech was performed by Dr. James Moran, development officer for the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
FAMU President James Ammons presented the first Pace Setter award to Gina Kinchlow. “Kinchlow raised $90,000 for the United Way last year, $20,000 more than the previous year,” said Ammons.
“She has truly achieved a new level of success,” said Ammons.
Ammons also recognized Althemese Barnes with an individual leadership award and the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Inc. with the group leadership award, accepted by its president, Jeremy Becks.
Marlon Wilson, a FAMU senior and active member of the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Inc., said, “It’s an inspiration just being mentioned alongside such a great man [King], and it further drives me to become a better servant to my community… Hearing Dr. King’s accomplishments is a motivator to continue his legacy and be a role model for the next generation.”
Although classes were suspended, FAMU’s gym was still filled with students and faculty cheering on to show appreciation to Dr. King.
“FAMU students are the living legacy of King’s dream, being black and in college,” Wilson said. “My new goal is to do all that I can to make my successors proud as a Rattler, a Sigma, and a black man, so others can build off of my legacy.”