Record turnout makes Legacy Banquet a financial success
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
The vision was pretty straightforward: Put together a banquet with a price tag of $100 per person and hopefully the event will raise some significant cash to help FAMU’s athletic department.
What transpired from the idea that Rev. R. B. Holmes brought to the table was an event that drew an audience of unprecedented magnitude. As a result of the turnout of over 700 that packed into the Lawson Center for the event, $225,000 was raised to double the goal that came along with the idea.
“Dr. Holmes’ vision has been realized,” said Larry Robinson, FAMU’s interim president. “This is a very good deal, Rev. Holmes. A very good deal.
“We are going to have an athletic program and we are going to have young men and women who excel in the classroom,” Robinson added. “This wonderful support is seeding for a lot of us to continue in that great FAMU tradition.”
The fund-raiser was right on time, said athletic director Milton Overton, as it will be used to start the renovation of Bragg Stadium.
The attraction of the event was the recognition of 15 individuals with ties to FAMU. Each of them was presented a medallion during a surprisingly fast-paced ceremony. FAMU’s Marching 100 also made an appearance, along with featured vocal performances by Carmen Cummings and Cassandra Poole.
“Tonight was an awesome event to be able to celebrate people from all walks of life,” said Rev. Julius McAllister, pastor at Bethel AME Church. “We wanted to come out in large numbers to show our support; not only to support the Legacy Banquet but also to support our church members.”
Two of the honorees — staunch supporters of their alma mater Eddie Jackson and Tommy Mitchell — attend McAllister’s church.
As part of his effort to make the event far-reaching, Holmes called upon McAllister and other members of the Tallahassee clergy to seek support from their congregations. Holmes also invited several community and business leaders to a luncheon, which raised over $53,000 weeks before the event.
“We knew we have a network of community leaders who love FAMU,” Holmes said. “Anytime we can help the football or basketball teams, we are going to do that.
“I thank God for all of the supporters, all the stakeholders for making this happen. This was not R.B. Holmes Jr. This was the people who love FAMU.”
It was the second time since 2015 that Holmes worked with the FAMU Foundation to stage a fund-raising banquet. More than 500 showed up then, but even with the increased turnout this year, Holmes hedged on saying whether a similar fund-raiser will take place next year.
Meanwhile, Mitchell who is a former president of FAMU’s National Alumni Association, said the success should spur more giving from alums.
Especially those who might be on the fence about giving.
“Nobody gets up and say who can I give some money to,” he said. “What this represents is that we ask. We have 7,000 graduates and we are going to ask them all.
“I’m putting a lot of this on us now. I think with the kind of spirit that we have for FAMU, we will be successful. This is the kind of thing we have to do.”
Overton suggested that the legacy event should continue.
“I’m not surprised at all because it’s R.B. Holmes and Bethel Baptist,” he said of the turnout. “I knew this was going to happen.”