The “100” exemplifies FAMU’s excellence with Obama

Sunday in Tampa the Marching 100 marched to the stage to welcome Sen. Barack Obama and entertain guests at the Tampa O-Train rally. The crowd cheered when Julian White, director of bands, finished playing “Do What You Wanna” and said, “We’re here to entertain everyone, the young and the old.” The Tampa O-train rally, part of Obama’s fundraising campaign for presidency, attracted Tampa residents of all ages and various races. He assured them he would provide a variety of music to satisfy their expectations. Without sheets of music, the band played whatever White requested. One of his special treats was “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” Sen. Obama appreciated the student performers. “This is the best introduction I have ever had,” Obama said.

“You guys make us all proud. You’ve made us proud all year long.” He thanked them for sacrificing their time on a weekend near the end of the school year. “It is good when young people are doing positive things (like this).” Gazing out over the nearly 600 attendees, Obama looked back on his career and wondered how he got to where he is now. “As a young man, I had been inspired by the civil rights movement. I said to myself, that is what I want to be a part of, the next phase of justice, freedom and equality,” Obama said. He said he worked for a church earning a $12,000 salary, while diminishing unemployment and establishing after-school programs. Obama’s work experience found on his Web site,, shows that he has dedicated his life to public service as a community organizer, civil rights attorney and senate leader in Illinois. The senator focused on his passion for the average individual. “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they are given the opportunity,” Obama said. He encouraged the volunteers to continue doing the work they do and to stay involved.

Obama noted,”At each and every junction in America, ordinary people have said that we don’t care how America is, we care about how it’s going to be.” Throughout his career, Obama sought to speak wherever people would listen. He said people at barbershops, parent-teacher association meetings and other community forums always asked him why he would want to go into something “as dirty as politics.” “There has always been a tradition in politics that we are all connected,” he explained. He said in all our cultural traditions “we are responsible for each other just as much as ourselves. It is that spirit that has been on the decline, especially in the last six years.” Next, he said the ordinary people who built this country have very little say-so in what goes on. “But the good news is that Americans around the county are tired of being bamboozled and they realize that they have to get involved to cause change.” Obama’s promises toward change included focus on healthcare for everyone, changing the education system and taking the spotlight off the war in Iraq and putting it on our economy. “I have made a commitment that by the end of the president’s term, and the beginning of my term, there will be universal health care,” Obama said. White, proud the band was chosen to play at the rally, said that this was a non-partisan performance. But he said, “I am confident in saying that the band supports Obama.” In review of the performance, Walter Smith, seventh president of FAMU currently residing in Tampa, said the band is a component of the excellence of FAMU. “Sen. Obama and his staff would not want them to be there if they were not the best and would be an asset to them to help them look good,” Smith said. Audience members were pleased with his speech. Blanche Ganey, a retired St. Petersburg resident and parent of a current FAMU student, said, “I like his politics, unlike those we have now, he is sponsoring some inclusion (of average people).” White, proud that the band was chosen to play at the rally, said this was a non-partisan performance. However, he said “I am confident in saying that the band supports Obama.” Band member Shannon Brown, 19, an elementary education sophomore from Orlando, said, “I was glad that we got to hear what he had to say. I didn’t know whether I supported him before speaking, but after hearing him, (now) I do.” Smith said, “It was good to see Sen. Obama here. We have to wish him all the luck in the world as an African American.” Smith noted that Obama is the first black to run for presidential office from the Senate. “Let’s face it. He’s from the Upper House, he has knowledge of the country, of the world, has a multicultural background and is well-educated,” Smith said. “He can represent America as well as anyone else from my perspective. All he needs is the vote.”