As students approached Gaither Gym Thursday morning in celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King, FAMU’s gospel choir could be heard serenading the crowd with “We Shall Overcome.”
Adner Marcelin president of the Tallahassee NAACP, was a late-substitute keynote speaker at the convocation and used his speech to encourage students to not take Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words in vain.
“We have an obligation to step up and do the right thing,” Marcelin said.
The local NAACP president spoke about the theme that he has been using this year: “Silence is not an option. Service and advocacy are our top priority,”
He stressed that the community cannot sit still and wait for things to happen because when one is not working, someone else is. A big issue in the Tallahassee community has been the obvious divide between FAMU and FSU. Marcelin believes that “it should not be permissible that FAMU should not be funded as a Florida university school by these rigged up performance standards at the same level as Florida State University.”
He encouraged student organizations to step up and make a difference.
“Dr. King gave us a call to action. He said in a letter that he wrote in the Birmingham jail that we had a moral responsibility to oppose unjust laws. Dr. King told us that you don’t need a law degree to understand that an unjust law, is just simply that,” he said.
When asked how the speech affected him, third-year SBI student Te’ron Hedrington said, “It was very impactful. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, it’s very important that we uphold the light that our founders have shed upon us and hold ourselves accountable to our standards, so that we can continue the legacy for generations to come.”
Shelby Hall, a fourth-year economic student, agreed with Hedrirngton.
“The speaker really honed in on the importance of not being silent in trying situations. He really encouraged us to be bold and make a change in the community,” Hall said.
After Marcelin, FAMU President Larry Robinson spoke briefly about the significance of voting and being part of the community.
“The things that Dr. King fought for have not quite arrived in 2020. We have a lot of work to do. We cannot afford to sit and let things that we know are not right or fair, go on in front of you without saying or doing anything about it. The most simple privilege that you have is to go and vote,” Robinson said.
Both Robinson and Marcelin both used Dr. King’s words to remind students before MLK Day that we shall overcome.