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131 years of excellence, happy birthday FAMU

By Sydne Vigille | The FAMUAN
On October 7, 2018

October 3 is a special day at Florida A&M University.

Every year on this day, FAMU celebrates the birth of the university. And each year the president of the university hosts a ceremony to commemorate the beginnings of FAMU.

This year President Larry Robinson will honor that memory by laying a wreath at the Eternal Flame. President Robinson expressed, Founders Day to him is a way to commemorate and reflect the success of FAMU and celebrate past presidents and their sacrifices to get FAMU where we are today.

According to the University’s website, the histories of FAMU began twenty-five years after the Civil War, Statesman Thomas Van Gibbs, a graduate of Oberlin College and West Point Military Academy, sponsored a bill that helped create the oldest public college in the Florida State University System. It began as State Normal College for Colored Students, which later becomes known as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College before becoming a university.

The first president of the university was Thomas Desaille Tucker, an Oberlin College graduate from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Gibbs served as co-founder and vice-president. The two men were the first instructors for the first 15 co-ed students at the institution. In 1907, Carnegie library was built and was the first brick building on campus. The library was funded by the railroad tycoon Andrew Carnegie, after Duval Hall burned down which was a three-story wooden building that housed the library, cafeteria, classrooms and dorm rooms for the female students.

In 1909, SNCC was given the “four-year college” status by state officials and changed the school’s name to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. 

From then on, FAMC grew more successful over the years. In 1911, FAMC establishes its first hospital and nurse training program under the supervision of Jennie Virginia Hilyer. The school of nursing was officially established in 1926 and became the first baccalaureate nursing program in the state of Florida for both black and white students.

During the Great Depression FAMC prospered and sports teams were created including women’s basketball and men’s football. In 1935, FAMC became the first HBCU to gain membership and accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In 1953, FAMC obtained its university status and changed the school’s name to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. 

Every year on Oct. 3, the university honors the rich history of FAMU and thanks its forefathers and past presidents for their diligent work, efforts and commitment to help make FAMU the revered institution it is today:

FAMU today,

FAMU tomorrow,

FAMU forever.

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