Florida A&M University held its annual Black History Month Convocation Monday at 6 p.m. in Gaither Gymnasium. This was a new initiative by the university to stage a convocation in the evening.
Brandon Johnson, second-year political science student from Gainesville, shared his views on convocation and the overall turnout.
“I was a little disappointed in the student turnout, but overall it was a great event … the speaker was excellent! The overall theme of you’re more than enough is what every student needed to hear,” Johnson said.
Some of the notable speakers included Department of History assistant professor Will Guzman, social activist and founder of Urban Cusp Rahiel Tesfamariam and Chairman of the Microsoft Corporation John W. Thompson.
Thompson discussed the importance of celebrating the traditions and life of African-American ancestors. He spoke on challenging students to think about what accomplishments they are going to contribute from the education that they are receiving and to celebrate the life of their ancestors.
“What will you do to add to this story? The story of this great legacy that you, your ancestors and all of our parents have been apart of. Each of us have this opportunity to make history on our own,” Thompson said.
Johnson went on to discuss the history behind Black History Month and the growth of this prominent month for African-Americans.
Keynote speaker Rahiel Tesfamariam gave a meaningful speech relating to students by describing an array of scenarios that students may be going through in their college career.
“I’m looking out and imagining what makes you Florida A&M, and what you are. I look at the array of where you probably come from, the neighborhoods you probably come from. I think about the family's cheering you on because you’re first generation rattlers,” Tesfamariam said.
Despite the lack of attendance, Tesfamariam still remained passionate in her speaking as she touched on three points—validation, ‘you are enough’ and ‘we are born to fight’—that helped her throughout her life that she wanted to share with the students.
Tesfamariam also expressed the significance in having a Black History Month Convocation at FAMU.
“Events like this are absolutely important, because they allow people to intersect the legacies of what our ancestors have done in the past with our purpose in the present as well as our hopes for the future, and we consistently need those reminders so that we can hold the past, the present and the future always in balance with one another,” Tesfamariam said.
After Tesfamariam’s speech, presentations were made by FAMU President Elmira Mangum along with Imir Hall and Anquinette Taylor, Mr. and Miss Florida A&M University. FAMU’s concert choir performed “Total Praise” followed by the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
The convocation ended with the Benediction and the singing of the Alma Mater.