On Thursday, Oct. 5, Florida A&M University celebrated 130 years of history during the Founder’s Day Convocation in Lee Hall and the wreath laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame.
The ceremony began with a greeting from FAMU Board of Trustee Bettye Grable and an historical reading by former FAMU President Fred Gainous. Then, interim President Larry Robinson introduced the keynote speaker James H. Ammons, FAMU's 10th president.
Ammons shared his takeaways and some history of previous FAMU presidents and other notable figures. Some of those presidents included Thomas D. Tucker, J.R.E. Lee, Benjamin L. Perry, Frederick S. Humphries. Ammons stressed throughout his speech that students should “Never Settle”.
Following his speech Ammons unveiled three wooden historical plaques that will be placed in front their buildings. The three buildings recognized were Lucy Moten Elementary School, Carnegie Library at Florida A&M University, and Gibbs Cottage. Each plaque also contained a historical summary of the buildings.
“Every year is important but this is a very special one,” said interim President Larry Robinson.
Although Ammons didn’t mention his own accolades in his speech, Robinson spoke proudly of former President Ammons and what he contributed to the university during the introduction. Following Ammons' speech, Robinson presented Ammons with an award celebrating his contributions to FAMU.
During Ammons' tenure, FAMU was crowned the nation’s top public Historically Black college or university (HBCU) by U.S. News & World Report. FAMU’s enrollment also grew from 11,500 to 13,274 while also introducing many new graduate programs to the institution. Also Hansel E. Tookes Student Recreation Center and the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium were completed during his tenure.
“This is our culture and it will remain our culture,” said Felix Ayadi a FAMU physical therapy graduate student.
The entire room was filled with a sense of celebration throughout the ceremony. The audience shared warm sentiments throughout the University Concert Choir performances of “ Down Through the Years – I Thank you Jesus” , “ For Every Mountain” , FAMU’s Alma Mater, and “Lean on Me”. Warm smiles and and bright eyes enchanted the faces of all those in attendance throughout the entire ceremony.
“I was surprised to see leadership was so close to home,” said Jabari Prier, a junior constructional engineering student.
Immediately following the Founder’s Day Convocation was the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Eternal Flame. The energy of all those in attendance was still positively high. An interactive reading between the ceremony leaders and the audiences occurred during the Wreath Laying Ceremony. Following the ceremony former President Ammons, Interim President Robinson , and the royal court stayed for a few photos.
When asked about how being a student leader compares to his experiences before becoming Mr. Florida A&M University.
“There is even more responsibility to uphold the rich legacy that precedes me,” said Jordan Sealey, the recently crowned Mr. FAMU.
Legacy filled the atmosphere with a spirit of legacy. Whether it was a former university President, retired faculty member, second or third generation rattlers, or alumni a sense of pride in FAMU circulated throughout room. Every obstacle, milestones, loss, and victory served for days like this, the 130th Founder’s Day Convocation ceremony.
Dhyana Ziegler, interim dean of the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication describes what the saying FAMU today, FAMU tomorrow, FAMU forever means to her.
“You’re the students of today that carry the torch for future students of tomorrow,” said Ziegler.
FAMU homecoming week kicks off Sunday, Oct. 8, with Coronation and Coronation ball in Lee Hall at 6 p.m.
FAMU will face North Carolina A&T on Saturday, Oct. 14 for its annual homecoming football game.