You may find him in Halisi Africa-Zanzibar providing Swahili lessons or on the campus of Florida A&M University initiating events to gather and teach students about social and cultural consciousness. Jeremiah Nichols is a third-year African American studies major from Tampa who is a force to be reckoned with.
When describing his upbringing, Nichols finds the perfect description to be “blessed.”
“The saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ was very much my reality,” Nichols said. “I was born to a single mother. So it’s always been my brother, mother and I, and she always made sure we had a community. From immediate family, basketball and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, it was a very structured community that raised me; and it’s a blessing because not a lot of people get that.”
After graduating from Jesuit High School, Nichols says the decision to attend Florida A&M was a no-brainer.
“I went to an all-white male Catholic high school and I felt I couldn’t do that again,” Nichols said. “I experienced racism every day and I was brainwashed. Truth be told, I wasn’t even supposed to come to FAMU. I was supposed to become Catholic and do missionaries around the country.”
FAMU makes him feel at home, he said, and the reality is completely different from what he’d previously experienced.
“That’s a feeling I didn’t have in high school,” Nichols said. “I feel like I can be myself, that I can really be African and there’s no punishment that comes with that.”
Upon his arrival at FAMU, Nichols was initially a student in the School of Business and Industry. But when he became enrolled in a class of FAMU professor Spencer Tyrus’ he realized that SBI was no longer where he envisioned his future.
“He’s been my mentor ever since that class,” Nichols said. “At that time, what he was saying to me was crazy. But he gave me books to read and as I read more, I understood what he was saying. Going through his class, I realized it’s time to make a change.”
From that moment forward, Nichols has gone on to create Ubuntu Coalition Missionaries, an organization dedicated to applying the learnings acquired to the community. He writes thought-provoking pamphlets and spreads them across dorms to challenge students to think critically.
He’s also developed a partnership with Halisi Africa to create a safe space for Black students in Tallahassee. With the mutual partnership, Ubuntu hosts events and provides Swahili lessons, which in turn brings mass attention and revenue to Halisi.
When asked what drives him to do so much for the students of FAMU, Nichols says it’s simply loving his peers and feeling the responsibility to take care of his community.
“I have the answers so it would be incredibly selfish of me to not share,” Nichols said. “I want you guys to feel safe and loved as well. I’m just trying to be a team player and I do that through my organization, writing pamphlets and Halisi.”
Charlea Bing, a FAMU student and friend, is an active member of Ubuntu and gives her perception of Nichols’ character and impact.
“Jeremiah is competitive, a genius, compassionate and simply revolutionary,” Bing says. “Ubuntu has helped me realign with what it means to be African and disassociate from European standards that are placed on us everyday.”
Isa Kamausalaam, a second-year student at FAMU, also expounds on the impact of his relationship with Nichols.
“Jeremiah has reminded me of the importance of the struggle of freedom,” Kamausalaam said. “Ubuntu has allowed me to network with people in the Tallahassee community and it’s made me aware of things I hadn’t been introduced to before, even things about myself.”
With a community spirit instilled in Nichols and mentors pouring into his potential, you can expect him to provide more opportunities for students at FAMU to learn and become conscious.
When asked what he wants people to know about him, he responded earnestly.
“I’m everything you think I am and more,” Nichols said. “I’m still a student who does fun things, but I’m still a revolutionary. A lot of people think you can’t do one and the same, but you can. I’m doing it.”