Students piled into the Lee Hall auditorium Wednesday to absorb knowledge and inspiration from Cornel West.
As the room filled to capacity, Student Government Association members had to give up their seats.
However, the presence of student support was still expressed when those without seats sat on the floor or grabbed a spot next to the wall.
After the Marching 100 welcomed West by playing “Give Me that ‘Ol’ Time Religion” West said, “FAMU…no place like it…No. 1 HBCU in the world!”
West, a social and economic philosopher, is also a professor who teaches African-American studies and religion at Princeton University.
Education for the next generation was one of the concerns West discussed. He said that too many students avoid Socratic thinking because they cannot handle the fear of what self-examination unearths.
“That’s what education is about, once you integrate yourself so thoroughly you are either going to grow and mature or you are going to snap,” he said.
When asked how he would inform the uneducated, he wanted to clarify people’s perception first.
“They are educated in a certain way, streets educate, prisons educate, but that’s different from getting an education at FAMU.
Some of them are in church and some of them are in prison, but you have to go where they are,” West said.
He told the students that he was looking for great character, vision and courage.
“That’s the only way this institution can survive,” he said.
Among the issues of white supremacy, democracy, education and sex the prolific speaker stressed the message of having courage.
“So many people give up so quick and sell out so easily,” he said.
He added that people should not ask God to “remove the mountain,” but should ask for strength to climb the mountain.
After the speech, many students said they left with hope and inspiration to make a difference.
“I think it was really influential and I think he had a lot of positive things to say.
It motivated people to go and do something positive,” said Bryan Freeman, 21, a psychology student from Pensacola.
Some students traveled from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville to hear the speaker.
Walker said they were invited to the event and that she learned a lot.
“He had some good thoughts about the gangster lifestyle. The real gangsters are the ones in the political arena,” April Walker, 23, an elementary education student from Edward Waters College from Dania.
There was a meet-and-greet session in the Grand Ballroom directly after he ended the speech.
The purpose of the session was to give students the opportunity to introduce themselves, take pictures and get their book signed by West.
Many students had to wait outside of the doors so that everyone would get a chance to communicate with him.
West said that students can look forward to seeing his work in the future.
Contact Sarah Chester at firstname.lastname@example.org