Florida A&M University’s Royal Court glided into Jake Gaither Gymnasium-Friday morning, decked in brightly colored tribal prints and traditional African garb.
They were joined by a crowd over 100 students. Faculty and community members came together to honor the culture of their ancestors this February at FAMU’s Annual Black History Month Convocation.
This year’s keynote speaker was none other than Belvin Perry, Jr., a member of the FAMU Board of Trustee’s, an accomplished attorney and trailblazer within the Florida judicial system.
Dr. John Warford delivered the occasion with a moving poem highlighting the beauty and power of being Black and American, followed by an introduction of the speaker by Student Government Association President, Justin Bruno.
This year’s theme was “The Crisis in Black Education.” It was only fitting that Perry, a graduate of Tuskegee University and advocate for equal access to education, deliver a moving speech about the state of education to the Rattler audience.
“Many professors at historically black colleges and universities taught us to be the best that we can be despite the fact that others saw us a second class citizens,” said Perry. “We were taught virtues of personal growth: respect, ownership, work ethic, leadership and faith.”
“George Washington Carver once said, ‘Education is the key to unlock that golden door freedom’…Since I’ve walked through that golden door, the same one you are walking through now, my life has never been the same,” Perry continued.
In a time where racial tensions are at an all time high, the necessity of Black History Month continues to be called into question.
“Those opposed to black history are condemning black history to be as forgotten as American history in general. There is a clear need not only for Black History Month, but also for expanding it, said Perry. Knowing the past clearly opens the doors to the future…Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Perry’s compelling message was matched with a powerful performance by FAMU’s University Concert Chorale. The chosen selections were two traditional African American spirituals. First “Keep Your Hand in God’s Plan,” followed by a spirited rendition of “For Every Mountain,” lead by second year Broadcast Journalism student Kristian Thomas.
Interim President Larry Robinson closed the morning out with a reminder of the very reason for coming together to celebrate the 41st Black History Month.
Robinson finished, “Famuans have never been ones to sit on the sidelines and let history pass us by.”