Representative Maxine Waters (D-Cal.) Friday called on Florida A&M students to follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of positive activism and social involvement.
Waters was the keynote speaker at FAMU’s 32nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. convocation. Remembered for his belief in using nonviolent means to obtain inalienable rights, King remains a prominent figure in history.
“By Dr. King’s examples, we learned to stand up and fight for our constitutional and civil rights,” Waters told FAMU students, faculty and administrators.
As the FAMU Gospel Choir sang “Total Praise,” students and faculty gathered in Gaither Gymnasium to listen to Congresswoman Waters’ words about the ongoing movement sparked by King’s willingness to fight injustice and provoke change.
Addressing America’s economic crisis and issues with poverty, Waters said she thinks King foresaw this struggle, but that such problems are unacceptable in the 21st century United States.
Waters barraged students with questions about their political involvement, asking: “Are you registered to vote? If you were eligible to vote in 2008 did you vote? What happened to year 2010? Did you forget to show up at the polls?”
She urged the audience to fight for their beliefs as King did.
“I want you to have a voice,” Waters said. “I don’t want you to be intimidated by anything or anybody.”
Assistant professor in the Department of History and African American Studies Will Guzmán said he hopes students are inspired to continue King’s legacy.
“He was a radical revolutionary…in a sense that he demanded not only civil human rights, but he demanded dignity,” said Guzmán, and, “He demanded things that often times people often overlook, including reparations for past injustices not only to of course Africans here in the so-called new world, but all oppressed people throughout the United State.”
Students were excited about attending convocation and some felt that it was an opportunity to unite with the student body.
“I feel very strongly about my African American heritage and I really wanted to see what our school had to say about Martin Luther King,” said Destiny Colson, 20, a third- year healthcare management student from Fort Valley, Fla. “I love when our school gets together for positive reasons.”
Amos Landers, 21, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Tampa, said he also loves being able to come together with the student body and that convocation represents progress made in the past and progress that will be made in the future.