Professor’s new book explores life of FAMU founder

Dr. Reginald Ellis

Reginald Ellis, a history professor at Florida A&M, is set to release a new book about Thomas DeSalle Tucker, one of the founders of FAMU.

Ellis is one of the co editors of the book “The seedtime, the work and the harvest.” One of his contributions to the book was writing about the life of Tucker and his involvement in the early Civil Rights movement in America.

The first chapter of the book (which comes out this week) gives an in-depth look at the life of FAMU's founding president that many people may not be aware about.

“One of the things that I found out about Tucker was how persistent he was and that he was an African prince, which is something that I think many students didn’t know that their founding president was indeed an African prince,” Ellis said.

His research for the book started back in 2003 when Ellis did a research project about Tucker in a African American senior seminar class. He faced some difficulty with getting the information that he wanted due to the fact the many of the original documents about Tucker at FAMU were burnt down in the fire of 1923.

“I stayed with the project from 2003 until now. I had been nagging away with getting his story told in a historically relevant maner,” Ellis said.

With no primary sources available at FAMU, Ellis had to rely on newspaper articles from the Strozier library at Florida State University and papers from the American Missionary Association to be able to go in depth about Tucker’s life.

Ellis’ goal was to tell Tucker’s story. Ellis  considers Tucker to be an obscure person in history and even to some of the students and alumni at FAMU. He also wanted students and alumni to know what inspired Tucker to be the man that he was and what he had to go through to establish the State Normal College for Colored Students, the FAMU had when it was founded.

“I think the significance of the book and Tucker’s obstacles that he overcame along with with the social-economic climate of the time has some direct parallel to today,” said Nashid Madyun, director of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives at FAMU. “You can take inspiration from what this university founding father had got through because of the similar climate and obstacles that led him to great achievements.”

With this new information about Thomas Tucker being told, a better understanding of FAMU’s history is available for all to enjoy.

“The other two co editors and I viewed Tucker as someone who played a very prominent role in the early civil rights movement by providing educational opportunities and fighting against white supremacy.” said Ellis. “When you really study the life and legacy of Thomas D. Tucker, it should give us a since of pride about our heritage and who we come from.”


The book is set to be release February 20, 2018.