Speakers stress giving back during Friday’s convocation

Hundreds of Florida A&M University students and alumni gathered in Gaither Gymnasium to celebrate not only homecoming, but the 100th year anniversary of the royal court Friday at convocation.

Phillip B. Agnew, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Chicago and student body president, dared students and alumni to take a stand against those who seek to destroy the university.

“I dare you to declare with me that this day will be an end to the lies. If Florida State University thinks that they’re going to steal the College of Engineering from under our noses, they’ve got another thing coming,” Agnew said.

People are wrong if they think FAMU will sit idly while FSU continues to badger the university, Agnew said. “Tell your neighbor they must have us messed up. FAMU is mine, not theirs, and I’m here to take back what they tried to steal from me.”

In a poem dedicated to the media, Agnew said, “Oh, if second best is for you, write about Howard U. They’re number two. But when all is said and done, no matter what you say, there is only one number one.”

The main speaker for convocation was Cecil Hayes, a graduate of FAMU.

Hayes owns her own interior design company and has created designs for celebrities such as actors Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes and music producer Timbaland.

She has been named in Architectural Digest’s listing of the Top 100 Architects and Interior Designers in the world three times.During her speech, Hayes gave an artistic meaning of being a Rattler.

“It’s the venom in us, baby,” she said.

She explained that any news is good news, and the reason that people keep talking about FAMU is because it’s constantly on their minds.

She said among the many cards in students’ wallets, their Rattler cards have the most meaning. “Orange is for endurance, and green is the color of vision,” Hayes said.

At the end of her speech, Hayes expressed the importance of giving back to the university. “If you don’t put your money in the right place…we’re going down,” Hayes said.

This homecoming also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Royal Court. Miss FAMU of 1979-1980, Karen Chester, formally introduced Stephanie Evans and Philip Hamilton as Miss and Mr. FAMU 2006-2007.

Monique Gillum, student body vice president, was impressed with the amount of students and alumni in attendance. “The presence of students and alumni was the best part of convocation,” Gillum said.

Howard Gore Knight, an alumnus of the university, said he enjoyed convocation this year, just as he has every year since he graduated.

“I graduated in 1968, and I haven’t missed a Homecoming Convocation since. My blood has changed from red to orange and green,” Knight said.

Among the many FAMU alumni in attendance was Walter L. Smith Jr., the seventh president of the university who served until 1985. Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit, and Bernice Green, former Miss Famcee, were also in attendance.