At the steps of the Capitol, Jairus Williams, a junior elementary education student at Florida A&M University delivered a speech to a crowd filled with thousands of Florida educators, administrators, families, and supporters in an effort to gain better funding for public education within the state.
Of the many keynote speaker, Williams highlighted the daily struggles Florida educators face each and every day in the classroom with little to no financial assistance.
“We are faced with dilemmas at all levels, but in spite of, we keep moving forward,” said Williams.
Dilemmas leading to the “Fund Public Schools Rally” spearheaded by the Florida Education Association (FEA), a union that represents teachers across the state of Florida.
Mary Proud, Statewide Organizer for the Student FEA believes in Williams and the role he plays in the organization.
Williams has served as the FAMU Chapter President for the Student FEA since his sophomore year. In July of 2019, he was elected the State President for Student FEA. As president, he is the representative for all college students who are education majors at any college or university within the state of Florida.
“He is fearless,” said Proud. “He is always willing to stand for what he believes in and do the right thing.”
From his humble beginnings as a member of the organization, FAMU College of Education Advisor Vanessa Pitts Bannister saw something in Williams that she knew would carry him far.
“He has so much to give to the field of education. He’s so committed to the cause and giving students a quality education,” shared Pitts Bannister. “To say it is one thing, to write it is another. But he does the work and that is what makes him so amazing.”
Williams wants to lead by example for all kids around the nation but especially for his little cousins. Williams’ desire to major in the field of education derived from a statistic he heard and fact-checked one day while at the barbershop.
“The number of prisons being built nationwide was based on third-grade reading scores among African American men and women,” recalled Williams.
As a young black male, Williams declared to be the helping hand to detour children from making bad decisions in life and ultimately be their helping hand.
To have the face, voice, and presence of Florida A&M University represented at the rally through Williams highlights the true essence of FAMU’s commitment to not only continue its production of the largest number of African American teachers in the nation but to producing outstanding educators across the nation.
“Students and young people need someone to look up to,” said Williams. “That was my primary reason to educate and to lead people down the right path that’s going to eventually help them later on in life.”