CNN to FAMU: How is it being black in America?

Cable News Network kicked off its black college tour Tuesday on the campus of Florida A&M University. The purpose of CNN’s tour is to conduct a study for its documentary titled “Black in America.”

CNN toured the campus interviewing students on the topic of being black in America.

“The tour is to help build awareness for our ‘Black in America’ documentary,” said Keisha Taylor, a CNN marketing representative said. “It will air in July.”

With a presentation from FAMU’s Marching 100 and a live broadcast from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. outside the School of Business and Industry, CNN representatives and FAMU students made their presence known.

The tour officially kicked off at 11 a.m. and hosted students until 5 p.m.

Jermaine Fletcher, 22, winner of the CNN Campus iReporter competition, said he feels fortunate to be a part of this experience. The iReport competition asked students to submit a one-to-10 minute video addressing a list of questions.

“I am learning a lot about what it means to be black from other black people,” said Fletcher, a senior broadcast journalism student from Richmond, Va.

The black college tour has given Fletcher a look into the lives of FAMU faculty, students, staff and alumni.

“This piece (iReport) is allowing me to see the foundation of others and their beliefs,” he said.

Fletcher’s contest-winning documentary was titled “Shades of Our Nation/What Does it Mean to be Black in America?”

Fletcher said he initially was not going to enter the competition.

“I almost didn’t do it,” he said. “I thought I was too busy; I had a lot of things due.”

Being a contestant paid off, and Fletcher said he hopes students benefit from CNN’s visit.

“Follow your gut instinct and your heart,” he said.

CNN representatives said they are looking forward to the iReport contest as the tour continues. The news network is still receiving contest submissions from the other schools on the tour: North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Howard University, Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University.

“We will have the same contest at each school we visit,” Taylor said. “The contest is judged by the NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists).”

The turnout of students on campus gives CNN high hopes for the remainder of the tour.

“With this being our first stop on the tour, the students have been great,” Taylor said. “The excitement from FAMU students has been encouraging.”

Students said the tour will help give others viewing the documentary an inside view of blacks in college.

Shanere Edwards, 22, a senior health care management student from Fort Lauderdale, said it will put FAMU and other HBCUs in a positive light.

“This shows that there are positive black students,” she said.

Other students conveyed the same thoughts about the kind of impact the tour could bring.

“This is going to highlight the need of HBCUs in America,” said Gary Cooper, 21, a junior business administration student from Tallahassee.

Cooper said students should be aware of their surroundings.

“This should make us realize we are being watched,” Cooper said. “We should be cognizant of how we are viewed.”

With FAMU being the first stop on the college tour, CNN representatives said they are looking ahead to other schools they will visit.