Bullard Issues a Challenge to all FAMU Stakeholders
By Devin Powell
The Florida A&M University community filled Gaither gymnasium on Feb.11 as Dwight Bullard headlined the school’s annual Black History Convocation.
The annual convocation featured FAMU’S Concert Chorale who sang the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and FAMU’s Wind Symphony and String Ensemble performed a musical selection titled “Dixieland Jam,” a selection they will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York later this year.
Featured speaker Florida Sen. Dwight Bullard, (D-Miami) spoke about the possible closing of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC during his speech at the convocation.
As Bullard approached the lectern, he urged the audience of students and faculty to take their phones out and tweet a message: save #SCState to South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley. Bullard said, lawmakers in South Carolina are attempting to close SCSU for a year due to the university’s debt pile up.
“Do what you must to save SC State,” said Bullard, a 1999 Graduate of FAMU.
Bullard drove the message home by emphasizing the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). FAMU is the only public HBCU in Florida.
“The truth of the matter is, people have always questioned the existence of HBCU’s since their establishment,” said Bullard. “South Carolina is in the south, just like Florida, so what do you think makes you any different?”
Bullard added, “You can pat yourself on the back and say, we graduate more African Americans. We have a large student population. But at its core, what makes you any different than the 3,000 students that their proposing take a walk out of Orangeburg?”
He spoke about the numerous notable events that FAMU students were a part of from the past and present. From desegregating busses in Tallahassee, to rallying together after the death of Martin Lee Anderson in 2006, to spending 30-plus days in the capital to seek reversal of the state’s “stand your ground” law in light of the Trayvon Martin case.
Ameenah Shakir, assistant professor, echoed Bullard when she said she agreed with the charge Bullard placed upon the Rattlers.
“I think the message was very contemporary considering some of the funding issues of HBCU’S today. Senator Bullard’s challenge was for students to really reflect the longer history of civil rights activism of FAMU was very on point,” said Shakir.
Bullard closed the program by posing a question to the audience.
“Where is the FAM in you? It’s not called FAM Lisa, FAM Tony. It’s called FAMU because FAMU is about each and every one of you. FAMU can only be as good as its weakness link,” he said.