The keynote speaker for Florida A&M’s Black History Convocation scheduled for Feb. 17 is bound to turn some heads this year.
Headlining the event at Al Lawson Center is Florida’s eighteenth Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer Carroll. Carroll, a Trinidadian native who immigrated to the United States as a child, is the first female Lt. Governor of Florida as well as the first African-American elected to her position.
The lieutenant governor has come under recent attack due to her remarks made at a meeting for the Republican Florida Party in January relating Governor Rick Scott to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Despite Scott’s tumultuous past with the FAMU community, first by insisting that current FAMU President James H. Ammons step down and then by using public housing as a way to relate to black students, Lt. Gov. Carroll stated, “I can’t think of anybody currently in my life right now that more epitomizes the values and the vision of Dr. King than Gov. Rick Scott”.
Despite drawing skepticism from Leon County residents, Nadiyah Knight, a senior, political science student, questions whether or not Carroll’s race or gender has anything to do with her position.
“I just don’t understand,” said Nadiyah, “just because she’s a black woman, she is now responsible for the entire black community in Florida?”
Gayle Andrews, a political media consultant and executive producer and host of the Blu Vu, a political reality news show, said that Carroll does fill that role.
Andrews said she believes that the instatement of Carroll has been a “historical moment and opportunity that has been extremely missed”.
However, Christopher Daniels, Ph.D., a current professor and FAMU alum, is pleased to have Carroll speaking at the university.
“I’m glad she’s coming because it shows that Scott’s administration values FAMU and it also shows that FAMU is receptive of members of the governor’s administration—it shows a reciprocal relationship,” said Daniels. “I hope that this continues an open dialogue between our administration and Gov. Scott’s administration in terms of what we need from the State.”
It seems that FAMU needs a lot from the state in regards to monetary and political support as both President Ammons’ review is nearing and the battle of the education budget in Florida is coming to a head.
When asked if Lt. Governor Carroll’s appearance is a political move, Daniel’s responds simply, “We don’t have anything to lose but we have a lot to gain.”