School of journalism debuts documentaries about FAMU activism

Thursday, 11 School of Journalism and Graphic Communication students released to the public their interactive Web site titled “Guardians of The Dream.” The project highlighted FAMU’s legacy of student activism.

The student-led project featured three mini-documentaries and a podcast about the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott, the 2000 protest against the One Florida Initiative and the 2006 march for Martin Lee Anderson.

Yanela Gordon, assistant professor and director of the SJGC office of internship and placement, was the faculty adviser for the group of students that worked on the documentary for the One Florida Initiative. Gordon said the students only had two and a half weeks to put together their Web site.

“I am extremely proud of our students,” Gordon said. “They prove through dedication, commitment and training they not only produce a quality project, but pieces that were historically significant and inspirational to a present generation of young people.” 

Gordon explained that the students had a short time frame to conduct research and contact significant people across the city and state. She said the Web site is a historical record.

“They are really points of pride for our school and preservers of African-American history.”

A press release written by Gordon said SJGC was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Blackside Inc., who produced the acclaimed “Eyes on the Prize” civil rights documentary series.

Fifteen historically black colleges and universities won competitive grants as part of an initiative by the National Black Programming Consortium. The initiative was designed to engage students in civic discussion through the use of new media formats.

Among the guests was Walter L. Smith, Ph.D., FAMU’s seventh president. He spoke about the impact of boycotts in Tallahassee and commented on the presentation. 

“I thought it was beautiful,” Smith said. “The concept is something that was very good because it presents an ideology. FAMU helped to change the Tallahassee community,” Smith said.

Smith also spoke about FAMU student’s participation in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He said that should be the students’ next project.

“No one spoke of the 60s, where segregation was into play,” Smith said.

Each documentary lasted about two minutes and included historical photos and memorable footage.

“We had two weeks for the project, it was so stressful,” said Shakaya Andres, 23, a graduating broadcast journalism student from Jacksonville. Andres said the best part of her experience was learning about the One Florida Initiative.

“FAMU students have paved the way to what we have now, and I appreciate FAMU after working on the project,” Andres said.The Web site was first shown online three weeks ago and has been through two rough edits. “When I first came to the project, I had to prepare with research,” said Darius Dinkins, 22, graduating graphic design student from Orlando. Dinkins developed the “Guardians of the Dream” Web site.

Taking four and a half hours to create the web pages, Dinkins said it was fun at first and later became tedious because of the time restrictions.

The students selected were Dinkins, Andres, Driadonna Roland, Brent Hatchett, Mahalia Bowman, Shimika Clarke, Tamika Johnson, Jessica Larche, Christina Hordge, Brittany Prince and Serge Beaubrun. Faculty advisers for the project were professors Gordon, William Jiles and Kenneth Jones.

The students’ work can be viewed on the Web site