Gala to honor senator, alumnus

In the fall of 1966, a slim young man from Tallahassee stepped onto the campus of Florida A&M University as a freshman. Forty-one years later, Sen. Alfred “Al” Lawson (D-Tallahassee), is preparing to be honored at the 2007 Annual Homecoming Alumni Gala.

During his time on the hill, Lawson was both an honor student and two-sport star, competing on both the basketball and track teams.

As a state legislator, Lawson remains one of the most visible and respected alumni of the university.

“There’s a great deal of excitement in knowing the University community feels you have been a benefit to them,” Lawson said.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1970, Sen. Lawson founded his own insurance company. Having established himself as a successful businessman, he ran and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1987.

Lawson has been known to jab his colleagues from Florida State University in the Senate and is never shy to pay homage to his alma mater. He said that the most important aspect of his FAMU experience was the relationships that he was able to develop with his professors.

“Those professors really gave me a lot of insight and training to enter the business community,” Lawson said. “FAMU was the foundation of all my training.”

Over the past several years, as the University has been faced with negative publicity, students like FAMU’s Student body Vice President James Bland believes Sen. Lawson has become one of FAMU’s most vocal allies.

“It’s is important to have Sen. Lawson supporting our University,” Bland said. “FSU has many supporters in the legislature and we have ours.”

Sen. Lawson said that he believes that the University’s biggest problem over the past four and half years has been a lack of leadership.

When President James Ammons was appointed as the tenth president of FAMU, Lawson was among the first to publicly support the decision.

“The arrival of Ammons has sent a positive message not only to the campus but the larger Rattler community,” Lawson said. “I have no doubt that he will do a good job.”

Although it’s been a while since Lawson has been a staple at every campus event, Lawson said he hasn’t forgotten some of his most lasting memories.

Lawson said he still remembers spending time on ‘the Set’ and preparing his best lineup of clothes for the week of homecoming.

In addition to being honored at the homecoming gala, photos and other memorabilia from Lawson’s college days will be compiled by the Carrie Meeks-James N. Eaton Black Archives and presented at the gala.

Murell Dawson, archivist and curator of the Black Archives, will head the project. Dawson, who has studied and researched virtually every aspect FAMU’s legacy, said that she is proud of Lawson and realizes the true value of his service to the University.

“Sen. Lawson’s life and his work serves [as] a prime example of how FAMU helps to transform individuals and to strive to reach their full potential,” Dawson said.