Rattlers strike during FAMU Day at the Capitol

Photo of Errol Wilson speaking during keynote speech. Photo courtesy: Chelsie Ross

Students, alumni and even high schoolers showed up at the Florida Capitol Thursday to rally for funding during Florida A&M University’s annual FAMU Day.

Starting at 9 a.m. with a breakfast orientation on the 22 floor, the Capitol was filled with people lobbying for the university’s legislative budget request throughout the day.

Asking for $50.4 million for the coming fiscal year, they hope to gain the money to elevate and sustain student success, update the Army ROTC building, create the chemical and biological research laboratory center and provide more funding to the College of Pharmacy at the Peaden Education Campus in Crestview.

FAMU President Larry Robinson and the president of the FAMU National Alumni Association, Curtis Johnson, created the “One FAMU Stronger Together Platform” and the “Boldly Striking Strategic Plan” to aid in student success.

In addition to the breakfast orientation and lobbying, there was a performance by the Marching 100 and the FAMU cheerleaders in the morning and a keynote speaker during lunch.

Errol Wilson, assistant dean for technology and innovation in the College of Education, was the guest speaker and gave a ten-minute speech on the university’s history and how it continues to impact its current state and future.

Wilson also mentioned different statistics, such as the increased number of applications this year and the status of the university as the No. 1-ranked public HBCU and its rankings in different categories.

He encouraged the FAMUly to continue to raise their voices and advocate for the university through elected officials and in their communities.

Wilson ended his speech with a message for the guests. “Most importantly, we strike boldly for FAMU. I say again, FAMU today, FAMU tomorrow and FAMU forever. May God continue to bless FAMU,” he said.

Rhagan Pickett, a third-year political science major and international relations student who was working at the event, shared how she enjoyed it and what was done.

“We were able to talk to representatives from central Florida and senators and people in the House and were just able to educate people about our university and why it’s so crucial that we receive funds. I’m very excited to continue to do more work,” she said.

Along with Pickett, Alexis Dumerjean, a third-year broadcast journalism student and vice president of the FAMU NAACP chapter, explained how the group spent their time.

“I feel like we got to talk to a lot of different aides and we were able to speak our peace, our mind and able to get advice. It was really good,” she said.

Dumerjean also shared how there was a decent amount of student turnout from various organizations such as the SGA and the nursing school.

“There were students from everywhere,” she said.

From the alumni’s side, Isis Dukes, the government relations chair for the FAMU National Alumni Association, also described their goals as alumni and how happy she was for the day.

“The day has been phenomenal. We had an overwhelming appearance today. In the past we’ve had anywhere from 100–125 people to attend; we had almost 300 today,” she said. “When I say I am proud, I’m overwhelmingly proud of the passion and the support that our university has.”

She emphasized that they were there to advocate for the university and funding as a group and how it’s deeper than just this one day.

“Today is just FAMU Day at the Capitol where we had the fanfare but we do this 365. We go to local meetings, we email, we mail and we call year-round. So today is just the fanfare, but we do this all day every day,” she said.

As the FAMUly rallied behind the legislative budget request, there was no mention of any of the bills that could impact the university, such as HB 999.