Rattlers represent at ‘Stay Woke’ rally

Flyer courtesy: famu.edu

Students at Florida A&M University rallied behind multiple organizations Thursday to host a “Stay Woke: Become the Vote” event.

Many FAMU students have been rallying in recent months because of developments at the Capitol, with lawmakers approving legislation that will dramatically affect the lives of Florida residents, especially college students.

The “Stay Woke” event was intended to give students interested in fighting for better laws a better sense of exactly what they’ll be fighting for as well as ways in to voice their frustrations. They started the night with a showing of the movie “Selma “to bring students back to their roots. After the movie, the real rally began. A few of the main topics discussed were NPHC/academic freedom (HB 999), near-total abortion ban (SB 300), voter suppression (SB 7050), and unlicensed concealed carry (HB 543).

To show the importance of the event, attorney Godfre Blackman of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund flew in from New York City to speak and show his support.

Devan Vilfrard, one of the lead organizers, has been passionate about the progress of HBCU student success while making sure the culture stands strong.

“The rally is important because it allows students to advocate for better policies as FAMU administration tends to silence the student body,” Vilfrard said. “It’s an uphill battle because we’re trying to make change while being suppressed in certain aspects. The fact that Republicans are the majority in the state makes it even harder.”

He isn’t alone in his push to bring the community together to fight.

Christian Baker, a student leader at FAMU, has been resilient in his push to motivate the community to fight for what’s right.

“This is what I love to do, uniting my people, fighting for what’s right, and educating people about bills and laws that they may or may not understand fully,” Baker said. “A rally like this is necessary because it allows for the voicing of frustrations and education among our campus.”

Baker urged students to read up on what is actually going on in the state of Florida as the Republican-controlled Legislature is trying to get things passed. The residents of Florida need to fully understand what exactly the new laws are, he said.

Some of the student organizations at the event included Florida Student Power, Dream Defenders, Student Speakers, Youth Never Let Up Coalition and Legal Defense Fund.

Tyler Span, a graduating senior at FAMU, enjoyed seeing the students of FAMU united in the wake of everything transpiring.

“In all my years at FAMU, we haven’t really had any rallies amongst ourselves where we voice our opinions and get informed on things,” Span said. “To me, it was a beautiful thing to see … in the wake of everything going on, to see students united as one in the cause was refreshing.”