By Pernell Mitchell, II
The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) family celebrated the distinguished history of African Americans during the University’s annual Black History Month Convocation on Feb. 10.
Men and women wearing colorful African attire added an air of cultural pride to the convocation. Student organizations, including members of The Royal Court, various attendees and platform guests sported head wraps, dashikis and other traditional attire to showcase their cultural pride.
Keynote speaker Belvin Perry Jr., a FAMU trustee and former Chief Judge of Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, expounded upon this year’s theme “The Crisis in Black Education.”
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom,” Perry said, quoting George Washington Carver. “Since I’ve walked through that door, the same one you [students] are walking though now, my life has never been the same,” he added.
Perry further explained the need for a national Black History Month, despite the gains people of color have made in America. “They tell us that there is no need for a Black History Month, that we do not need to seclude ourselves from American history,” Perry said. “But who better to teach the lessons of American perseverance and achievement than African-Americans?”
Perry ended his address with a rousing rendition of the “Rattler Charge.”
“Rattlers will change the face of the world. You are our future history makers. You are this nation’s future. Strike on Rattlers!”
The speaker’s comments were highlighted by several powerful musical performances. The University Wind Symphony Band delivered an upbeat arrangement of Robert W. Smith’s “Purgatory: The Divine Comedy.” The performance featured traditional African “foot stomps” and “paper shuffles” and three student soloists: Alyssa Thomas (French horn), Asia Lloyd (flute) and Justin Fitzpatrick (saxophone).
The University Concert Choral graced the assembly with two pieces; “Keep Your Hand in God’s Plan” and “For Every Mountain,” led by student soloist Kristian Thomas.
Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. closed the convocation with a plaque presentation to Perry and an acknowledgement of platform guests and community dignitaries. “FAMUans have never sat on the sidelines and let history pass them by,” Robinson said. “Rattlers have made such a difference in this nation. Thanks for your willingness to be a part of history.
FAMU is planning its second annual Harambee Festival, celebrating African heritage, culture and art, on Feb. 25 in Tallahassee’s Cascades Park. For more on this and other FAMU Black History Month events, be sure to visit www.famunews.com/events.