In celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, a book signing for the recently published "Agile, Mobile, Hostile: The Biography of Alonzo S. Jake Gaither” by Roosevelt Wilson, former athletics director, and journalism professor was held Mon., Jan. 15 at the historic Jake Gaither House.
Gaither coached 25 seasons for the Florida A&M University (FAMU) football program from 1945-1969. In 1975, Gaither was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame of the National Football Foundation.
Eddie Jackson, president of the 220 Quarterback Club, presided over the book signing and opened with honoring the life and legacy of Gaither while recognizing Wilson, family, and supporters as well as presenting guest speakers.
"This is a remarkable family. Roosevelt not only was a Director of Sports Information he was Director of University Publication, Director of Athletics and one of the great professors of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication," Jackson said. "This is a remarkable Florida A&M family one of the most remarkable in the university's history.”
FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson gave remarks and recalled the impact of Gaither's legacy.
"Coach Gaither was more than a football coach, he was tied into the fabric of change in this nation that was occurring in the 1960s,” Robinson said. “We celebrate all of those heroes and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but one of the foot soldiers in the movement was none other than Jake Gaither.”
Robinson expressed how appreciative he was for Wilson’s efforts to tell the untold stories of Gaither’s role in FAMU’s history.
“On this day, we honor and pay homage to another hero of the civil rights movement but at this time through the literary work of Professor Wilson,” Robinson added. We are proud of Wilson and his efforts to continue the work of this great man through journalism to uncover untold stories of this icon in our history. We appreciate this so very much.”
Wilson took the stand with closing remarks while reflecting on Gaither’s legacy and impact on others.
"I could never ever bring myself to call him Jake. I always called him Coach Gaither. There's something about that man that was special," Wilson reflected.
"To be able to put that down and to relive those years and what Coach Gaither meant to so many people is just incredible. I must say I'm proud of what we were able to put together and in tribute to this man. A lot of people don’t know how great this man was. I hope that what we've done has captured some of that," Wilson continued.
The event featured special tributes to Wilson and Gaither from John Eason, Vaughn Wilson, Cornelius Jones, former Mayor John Marks and supporters.
The house seated over 50 guests, serving refreshments during the book signing as well as a tour of the historical house.