It would seem logical to infer that the Florida A&M University (FAMU) homecoming experience has evolved throughout the history of the university, but when it comes to this jubilant affair, one particular feeling among alumni has steadily been felt throughout the years. From an alumni’s perspective, the 130 year old university’s annual celebration of black scholarship, leadership and friendship is capable of delivering an overwhelming sense of nostalgia to its thousands of annual attendees.
Gail French, a 1986 graduate of FAMU and a member of the FAMU National Alumni Association, has been attending homecoming annually since her freshman year at the university. French notes that though many components of homecoming have changed such as the fashion and student events, the black unity on the campus has maintained consistency, reminding her of why she chose FAMU initially.
“I do see a pattern in the unity among the black folks on this campus every time homecoming comes around. I like coming to mix and mingle in a family-like setting,” she added. “Every homecoming reminds me of why I overlooked other schools as a kid.”
1991 graduate Cecka Rose-Green cosigns the notion of the special display of black unity at FAMU homecomings. “I must say, alumni at other HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges/Universities) have always mentioned the unity that we have here at FAMU. They see the way we love on each other here,” Rose-Green said.
The affection shared among FAMU graduates can be seen on display at any and every event that takes place during the week-long celebration.
Faye Dawkins, a 1977 FAMU graduate and faithful attendee of homecoming, notes that her fondest memories all circle around one of the biggest homecoming events: Homecoming Convocation.
Homecoming Convocation, historically held the Friday before every homecoming football game, is an event where FAMU students of the past, present and future gather to celebrate the triumphs of the historically black university.
Dawkins recalled a particular Convocation in 1997 where the event was ceased by the Tallahassee fire department due to an overload of enthusiastic attendees.
“There were just thousands upon thousands of alumni. The fire department had to come shut us down because the streets were blocked,” she said. “That’s still one of my fondest memories,” she claimed.
2005 graduate, Monique Thomas, agrees that the homecoming convocation is always an event to remember.
“My fondest memory is going to convocation and seeing the alumni come back in droves,” Thomas recalled. “As a student, seeing the pride that the alumni had in the school inspired me to be like one of them. I wanted to come back in my orange and green and give back. I love the fact that I can fulfill that now,” Thomas said.
Seeing alumni come back with giving spirits also gives Dawkins the drive to follow suit.
“It makes me want to contribute more when I see people out doing so many things for the university. There’s no better feeling than giving back to the institution that supplied you with endless memories and opportunities,” she claimed.
With nearly 30,000 attendees at last year’s homecoming football game, it is predicted that this year’s homecoming festivities will bring in a huge number of FAMU graduates all longing to gather and reminisce on their time spent at FAMU, furthermore coinciding with this year’s “FAMUly reunion” homecoming theme.
“Getting together with old classmates is just extremely nostalgic. Homecoming is embedded in the hearts of so many alumni. It’s not something you to miss out on,” Thomas said.