Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ain’t Misbehavin’ “Swings” to the Charles Winter Wood Theatre

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Essential Theatre’s guest director and choreographer Harry Bryce will showcase his version of the reputable Tony Award© winning musical revue “Ain’t Misbehavin’: Fats Waller Musical Show” starting Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3 in the Charles Winter Wood Theatre in Tucker Hall.

The show is comprised of 30 of Thomas “Fats” Waller’s classics. Some are comical like “Your Feets Too Big,” some poignant and political like “Black and Blue,” which is a commentary on racism, and others are just toe-tappers like his famous “The Joint is Jumpin.” The show will be nostalgic for those who are familiar with Waller’s music. The revue is a way to exposing “swing” music to a new generation, and like most songs, the messages in the lyrics are relatable to everyone.

“These are all songs this generation would not naturally know,” said Bryce. “That is why we continue to do these plays, so these songs and production can be introduced to new generations. We have to include these classic and our contributions to American music theatre.”

The original play is a lightly staged Broadway production without a plot. However, Bryce created a storyline for “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that involves a love triangle between three women and two men. He has included a few additional characters specifically for the FAMU production.

“If you like good music and like to have fun, then this will be the place to be,” said Kimberly Harding, associate professor of theatre. “This will be a taste of the sounds of the Harlem Renaissance, but more importantly a good time.”

According to Bryce, this will be a high-energy production that will keep the audience at the edge of their seat.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’ is filled with gallivanting, strutting and a bunch of lies and propaganda because you can’t believe a thing they are saying,” said Bryce. “The storyline is built around this Fats Waller boisterous character.”

Preview performances are scheduled for Wednesday, March 30 and Thursday, March 31. Admission prices are $5 for general admission and free for students with a valid I.D. Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 performances start at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $10 for students and children.

For more information on Essential Theatre’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” contact Kimberly Harding at (850) 561-2425.

Eminent Historian and Scholar Darlene Clark Hine to Speak at FAMU

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Florida A&M University (FAMU) History and African-American Studies Department and the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum will host the “African-American Women: Their Struggles, Achievements and Contributions” forum Thursday, March 24 at 6 p.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium.

Eminent historian and scholar Darlene Clark Hine will serve as the keynote speaker. Hine is the chair of the Department of African American Studies Board of Trustees Professor of African-American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, past president of the Organization of American Historians and of the Southern Historical Association.

Hine received her bachelor’s degree at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill., her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Hine has taught at South Carolina State University and at Purdue University. She was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.

She is the author and/or co-editor of 15 books, most recently The Harvard Guide to African-American History. She coedited a two volume set, A Question of Manhood: A Reader in Black Men’s History and Masculinity; and with Jacqueline McLeod, Crossing Boundaries: Comparative History of Black People in Diaspora.

She won the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for the reference volumes coedited with Elsa Barkley Brown and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. She is the author of Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890–1950. Her forthcoming book is entitled The Black Professional Class: Physicians, Nurses, Lawyers, and the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, 1890–1955.

The event is free and open to the general public.

FAMU and FSU SGA Co-Sponsor the State of the Student Summit

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has teamed up with Florida State University (FSU) for the second annual State of the Student Summit. The summit will bring together a diverse compilation of today’s top leaders from around the nation in business, academia, media, politics and education to attack major issues affecting America's students domestically and globally. The Summit is scheduled for Sunday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

“The purpose of the Student Summit is to bring a variety of panelist to empower students on various issues such as budget cuts, health care, entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability. It’s imperative that we keep our students up-to-date with current issues not only in the U.S. but the world,” said Breyon Love, a junior accounting student and vice president of FAMU’s Student Government Association.

The event will feature a panel discussion and open-dialogue with the audience. The panelists for the Summit are as follows:

* Kirk Franklin – seven-time GRAMMY® Awards winning gospel music artist and host of SUNDAY BEST, Black Entertainment Television’s original series.
* Mike Huckabee – former governor of Arkansas, former Republican presidential candidate, author and the host of Huckabee on
* Van Jones – environmental activist, attorney and professor
* Kelly Layman - executive director of Communications and Development for the State University System, Florida Board of Governors
* Dom Sagolla – co-founder of the social media website Twitter

The discussion is one way to bridge the gap between FAMU and FSU students, and to hear how they feel about the issues affecting the student body.

General admission for the Summit is free and open to the general public.

For more information, contact (850) 599-3624.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ABA National Appellate Advocacy Team Defeats Five Law Schools to Advance to National Finals

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law American Bar Association (ABA) National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) Team went undefeated in five rounds of regional competition to earn a spot in the national competition later this spring. The team composed of second-year law students Jason Duey and Jenny Liabenow, and third-year law student Dominique Young as bailiff, was among 31 teams representing 20 ABA-approved law schools at the regional competition held in Washington, D.C. The team was coached by Visiting Professor Joseph Richard Hurt.

“The outstanding performance of our students in this and other competitions is a direct reflection of the caliber of our faculty and how seriously we take our advocacy training,” said LeRoy Pernell, dean of the FAMU College of Law.

The NAAC is one of the largest and most prestigious competitions in the nation with 217 teams having entered NAAC competition this year. Only 24 teams advanced from six regional competitions to the national competition. Schools represented in the Washington, D.C. Regionals included Harvard University, Georgetown University, American University, The College of William & Mary, and Temple University.

FAMU defeated teams from Barry University, University of Richmond, and William & Mary in the first three rounds of competition to earn the number two seed in the semi-finals consisting of 16 teams. In that round, FAMU defeated Campbell University to advance to the final round where the team defeated American. Two teams from Liberty University and one from the Charleston School of Law also advanced to the national competition in Chicago, which will be held April 7-9, 2011.

In addition to the team’s 5-0 record, Liabenow was recognized as third best advocate and Duey as fourth best advocate out of 62 students who participated in the competition.

“Our win is a testament to the volunteer professors and students who helped us practice, the exemplary guidance of our coach, Professor Hurt, and a fantastic team,” said Duey. “Without these factors, our success stood little chance of realization.”

FAMU Competing in the Home Depot Retool Your School Project

Florida A&M University (FAMU) needs the community’s votes as it competes against other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to win $150,000 in campus improvement grants from The Home Depot. One $50,000 major grant and 10 $10,000 minor grants will be awarded.

The competition is part of The Home Depot’s long-standing efforts in support of the black community. The grant money will go towards a school improvement project that “will have an enduring impact on the lives of students, faculty and alumni for generations to come.”

For the $50,000 grant, FAMU’s New Beginnings Childcare Facility proposes to install the first solar energy system on campus. For the $10,000 grant, FAMU’s New Beginnings intends to install outdoor lighting, make interior building repairs and expand and enhance the outdoor learning area.

To win either the $50,000 or one of the $10,000 grants, FAMU must receive more online votes than any other HBCU in the competition. Last spring, the university was awarded a $10,000 grant, which assisted in the creation of FAMU’s first “Green Space.”

Online voting is now open and ends Friday, April 22, at 11:59 p.m. Each individual may vote only one time per day until the deadline. To vote for FAMU’s grant proposals, go to

Screenwriter and Actor Kelsey Scott will Facilitate a Screenwriters Workshop

“A Crash Course in Writing for the Screen” is a three-day workshop hosted by the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC), March 24 through 26. Accomplished screenwriter and actor Kelsey Scott will facilitate the workshop intended to teach aspiring screenwriters how to develop a story concept into a completed screenplay. Workshop registration is free to the first 25 FAMU students. Registration for other students at FAMU, FSU and TCC students is $15. Non-student registration is $25.

Scott, a FAMU alumna, is based in Los Angeles. Among her credits are the Sony Pictures thrillers Motives and Motives 2, starring Vivicia A. Fox (Kill Bill, Two Can Play That Game), Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), and Brian White (Stomp the Yard, Daddy’s Little Girls). Her impressive acting credits include Grey’s Anatomy, House M.D. and The Young and the Restless – along with a host of stage and musical theatre credits. She is currently at work on the harrowing true story of former Hampton University student Kemba Smith for Rainforest Films.

“SJGC is pleased to host this screenwriting workshop,” said James Hawkins, SJGC’s dean. “Kelsey brings an impressive list of experiences that will be valuable to our students as well as the Tallahassee community.”

The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event concludes with a 6:30 p.m. screening of short films, written and directed by FAMU alumni followed by a question and answer (Q&A) session with the filmmakers. The screening and Q&A are free and open to the public.

Persons interested in registering should contact the FAMU SJGC at (850) 599-3379. The registration deadline is March 21, 2011.

About Kelsey Scott
Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the FAMU SJGC and a master’s degree from the Florida State University (FSU) College of Motion Picture Arts. She parlayed her experience as a script consultant to spearhead the first screenwriting curriculum at Golden West College in Orange County, Calif., and was subsequently invited to return to FSU as a visiting filmmaker in residence. As a child, Scott was a series regular on the ABC sitcom, The Robert Guillaume Show.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

FAMU Kicks off President's Tour in The Villages with Awarding $168,000 in Scholarships

The stage was set and the lights were on Florida A&M University (FAMU) at the Seabreeze Recreation Center in The Villages, Fla., as FAMU awarded $168,000 in scholarships to students including two Distinguished Scholarship Awards.

With a room filled with students, parents and alumni, FAMU President James H. Ammons shared with the audience his mission for his tour.

“At FAMU, we are going to put you on a path to the good life,” said Ammons. “We are here today to recognize and acknowledge you [students].”

The parents of Alex Hull, a Distinguished Scholarship recipient, stated they were surprised their son was presented with a scholarship.

“We decided to come today to get more information,” said Alicia Hull, mother of Alex. “We are very proud of him.”

Her husband, Kenneth, expressed his thoughts.

“This [scholarship] shows that his hard work is finally paying off,” said Hull.

Alex is interested in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. President Ammons shared with Alex that if he takes the SAT or ACT again and get a slightly higher score, he could be eligible for the Life-Gets-Better Scholarship valued at more than $70,000.

“I am taking the ACT next month,” said Hull, with a smile on his face.

Sydney McCullough-Stevenson, who also received the Distinguished Scholarship Award, was surprised.

“I’m still in awe,” said Stephenson. “I had to do a double take when they called my name. I didn’t expect to receive a scholarship this big. Today, I saw a different side to FAMU. I saw FAMU as welcoming and fun. I plan to go to FAMU to study psychology.”

President Ammons is traveling throughout the state of Florida offering scholarships to some of the state’s best and brightest students.

Accompanying Ammons on the tour were university recruiters, administrators, student leaders and members of the FAMU Connection, a group of talented students who tell the university’s story through song and dance.

Funds for the tour came from private donations.

Distinguished Scholarship Award - $48,000

Alex Hull, Villages Charter High School
Sydney McCullough-Stevenson, West Port High

George W. Gore – $16,000

Arvn Ramnarain, Mount Dora High
Ashee Falconer, Leesurg High

George W. Gore - $12,000

Dominique Charles, Wekiva High
Aletha Beckford, Dunnelllon High

George W. Gore - $8,000

Tabitha Hickman, Gainesville High

Presidential Special Scholarship - $4,000

Diamond Connnelly, Leesburg High
Quonsonay Erving, Wildwood High

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Minor League Baseball CEO and President Speaks During Distinguished Entrepreneurs Forum

Minor League Baseball’s (MLB) Chief Executive Officer and President Patrick O’Conner bridged the gap between the industry and Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) students. O’Conner was the guest speaker at the SBI’s Distinguished Entrepreneurs forum.

“This is our second trip to FAMU,” said O’Conner. “We were here a year ago. We thought it was important to reach out to HBCUs as a source for motivated, energized and talented young men and women of color specifically. Being in Florida and understanding FAMU’s tradition and reputation, we thought it was one of our must stop campuses.”

During the forum, students received insight on how imperative it is for the industry to incorporate savvy ready-to-work minority businessmen and women.

In December, O’Conner invited a group of FAMU students to the MLB’s winter meetings. FAMU students Jimarcus Bickers and Gavin Molden, who were both present at the forum, received numerous offers during the winter meetings.

“The forum today was very important for the sport of baseball and blacks,” said Molden, a fourth year business administration and marketing major and native of Birmingham, Ala. “For the longest we [African Americans] were excluded from the organization and the sport, but now with Mr. O’Conner’s initiatives we will be able to impact the sport and the world on a larger scale.”

As part of the MLB’s diversity initiative, MLB has identified five pillars in the industry that are susceptible to influence on a diversity front. Those areas are ownership, executive level management, mid- and entry-level management, staffing, fans and business-to-business.

“For us to influence and move the needle along this diversity issue, we need a more diverse workforce,” said O’Conner. “The young men and women at FAMU are in a position where they are job ready.”

Bickers received five offers with MLB.

“The forum went well,” said Bickers. “I received everything I expected from Mr. O’Conner. You can tell he is passionate about what he does and he loves what he does, which makes us all feel welcome.”

O’Conner shared with the students some advice that would help them excel.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not narrow your scope, think broad-based,” said O’Conner. “There is much more to a career in sports than playing, coaching and selling tickets.”

O’Conner spent 29 years in professional baseball including the last 18 in the MLB office. He joined the Minor League staff in May 1993 as chief operating officer and added the title of vice president for administration in December 1995. He was elected the 11th president of MLB in December 2007.

FAMU Video Featured at Smithsonian Ocean Hall of the Museum of Natural History

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Environmental Science Institute (ESI) students are featured in the video “From Education to Exploration: Students at Sea,” which is on display at the Smithsonian Ocean Hall of the Museum of Natural History. The video, which has been on display since November, will continue to be available through March.

The video can be viewed at

Jennifer Cherrier, ESI associate professor and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/FAMU Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) deputy director, produced the video through funding from NOAA and NSF. The video was adapted and is now being shown in NOAA’s Ocean Today Kiosk, a multi-media interactive exhibit that is at 15 museums and aquariums around the country including The Smithsonian-Ocean Hall in Washington D.C. After its rotation, the video will go into the archive and will rotate on-and-off with the rest of the videos.

“Students at Sea” is a three-day research cruise that takes place off the Florida panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. The purpose of these cruises is to give FAMU students a hands-on field research experience.

The video showcases students and professors carrying out an ecosystem inventory and collecting samples from the water — such as plankton. The video also highlights the group taking part in a sediment grab sample, which helps the students to see what the water column productivity looks like and how it affects the sediments.

“This trip in particular has helped me to realize a couple of things that I hadn’t noticed in the past,” one student said. “It brings me closer to the ocean and allows me to see up close what I study in the classroom and textbooks.”

FAMU’s ESI is one of several innovative programs at the university. Environmental science is a discipline that offers many opportunities for students in the field such as researchers, lawyers, teachers, professors, medical professionals and government and industry workers. The ESI is a multidisciplinary unit that offers a wide range of services to students, governmental agencies, private sector companies, communities and other organizations.

FAMU Schedules its Fourth Annual President's Tour FAMU Up Close and Personal

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons will kick off his Fourth Annual President’s Tour beginning Saturday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 8 in an effort to recruit some of the best and brightest students in the state of Florida.

President Ammons will meet with students, parents, business executives and alumni in The Villages, Leesburg, Winter Haven, St. Petersburg, Naples, Ft. Myers and Miami to award scholarships on the spot to students who meet presidential scholarship requirements.

“This year’s President’s Up Close and Personal Tour will give prospective students the opportunity to receive scholarships from the University,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “Despite these tough economic times, this tour is an opportunity to reassure students and their parents that FAMU can help them discover what they can become.”

High school seniors and their parents are invited to attend all receptions. To qualify for the Life-Gets-Better scholarship, a student must be designated as a National Achievement, Hispanic or Merit Semifinalist majoring in one of the following STEM programs: biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, physics, environmental science, or mathematics and a 1800 SAT score or a 27 on the ACT. Other students who have at least a 3.5 GPA and scores of 1900 SAT or 29 ACT are also eligible. Recipients of this scholarship will also receive a stipend each semester for miscellaneous expenses, internship opportunities and a laptop.

FAMU will also offer the Distinguished Scholar Award, a full scholarship, to students who have 1800 on the SAT or 27 on the ACT and a 3.5 GPA. Partial scholarships will be offered to incoming freshmen who have at least 1650 on the SAT or 23 on the ACT and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

The FAMU Connection, the University’s recruitment/performing group, will provide entertainment. FAMU administrators, Presidential Ambassadors, members of the FAMU Royal Court, representatives from the colleges and schools and alumni will accompany President Ammons.

The President’s Up Close and Personal Tour receptions are scheduled as follows:

March 5, 2011

12:30 p.m.
Sea Breeze Recreation Center
2384 Buena Vista Blvd.
The Villages, Fla.

3 p.m.
Genesis Center
1414 W. Main Street
Leesburg, Fla.

March 6, 2011

11 a.m.
Hurst Chapel AME Church
875 Avenue O Northeast
Winter Haven, Fla.

6:30 p.m.
Hilton St. Petersburg Bay Front
333 First St. South
St. Petersburg, Fla.

March 7, 2011

6:30 p.m.
Hilton Naples
5111 Tamiami Trail
Naples, Fla.

March 8, 2011

6:30 p.m.
Miami Carol City Senior High School
3301 Miami Gardens Drive
Miami, Fla.

For more information about the tour, contact Sharon P. Saunders at (850) 599-3413.

Student Journalists are Best of the South Again

Once again, journalism students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) have been named “Best of the South” by the Southeast Journalism Conference. Each year, the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC) sends its students to compete with peers from eight states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. This year’s winners were announced Feb. 19 at the 25th annual conference in Troy, Ala. The competition included 331 entries from 33 schools.

Marcus Scott, a senior public relations major, won first place in the on-site public relations competition. Scott represented FAMU by himself in a category that allowed teams of three.

“This win just proves that the education I am getting here at FAMU is top notch,” said Scott. “I was not intimidated. I approached it like a normal assignment that one of my professors would assign on any regular day. I feel validated and secure that I will make it in the PR industry after graduation.”

Journey Magazine won five awards including second place for Best College Magazine and fourth place for Best College Website (

“Each year, our students continue to amaze me,” said Laura Downey, journalism professor and Journey Magazine advisor. “It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to see the Journey staff interact with students from other universities.”

The complete list of FAMU winners include:

Best Public Relations, first place, Marcus Scott
Best Sports Writer, fourth place, Clarece Polke, The FAMUAN
Best Feature Writer, seventh place, Jordan Culver, The FAMUAN
Best College TV Station, fourth place, FAMU TV 20
Best TV Journalist, fourth place, Karisa Olds, FAMU TV News 20 at 5
Best College Magazine, second place, Journey Magazine
Best Magazine Layout Designer, second place, Ashleigh Beverly
Best Multimedia Journalist, third place, Kristen Swilley
Best Magazine Writer, third place, Brandon Neasman, Journey Magazine
Best College Website, Journey Magazine

SJGC students have won more than 20 awards in journalism contests this month alone, including several received at the National HBCU Student News Media competition in Columbia, S.C. The awards include:

Best Student Newspaper, first place, The FAMUAN
Best Online Multimedia Package, first place and second place
Best Opinion Writing, first place, Brandon Neasman, The FAMUAN
Best Editorial/Opinion Sections, second place, The FAMUAN
Best Sports Feature, second place, Clarece Polk, The FAMUAN
Best News Coverage, third place, The FAMUAN
Best Individual Page Design, third place, Jeffrey Morris, The FAMUAN
Best Opinion Writing, third place, Tineisha Sulker, The FAMUAN

For more information about the journalism program at FAMU, contact Division Director Dorothy Bland at (850) 599-3718. For more information about the 2011 SEJC Best of the South Competition contact Michael Chute at (731) 661-6594. For more information about the National HBCU Student News Media competition, contact Valerie White at (850) 599-3650.

FAMU and EPA Partner to Promote Sustainability, Environmental Careers and Watershed Management

At a ceremony today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) entered into two agreements with EPA focused on green initiatives. The first commits EPA and FAMU to cooperate in addressing environmental issues ranging from energy policy and sustainability to food security, health disparities, environmental justice and children’s health. FAMU is the fourteenth university to join the agency’s Collegiate Sustainability Initiative and, as part of the agreement, EPA will work with FAMU to help green the university’s campus and make students aware of internships and career opportunities in the environmental field. A second agreement was also signed between FAMU, EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that designates the university as the first Center of Excellence for Watershed Management in Florida.

FAMU President James H. Ammons signed the two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) during a ceremony this afternoon at the university’s Lee Hall Auditorium.

“EPA is committed to expanding the conversation on environmentalism by engaging Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming. “This collaborative partnership with FAMU will allow us to advance our mutual goals of greening the university’s campus, promoting sustainability initiatives throughout Florida and educating the next, more diverse generation of environmental leaders.”

Under the first MOU, EPA committed to provide technical assistance to support several existing centers at FAMU including the Center for Environmental Equity and Justice, the Center for Environmental Technology Transfer and the Center for Water Quality. EPA and FAMU plan to undertake joint research projects, and EPA has committed technical support to assist with FAMU’s ongoing research on the environment, health disparities, pollution control, radiation protection and micrometeorology. Lastly, EPA will collaborate with FAMU’s Career Center to make students aware of internship opportunities and with the Office of the Provost to develop faculty exchange opportunities.

“This collaborative initiative in sustainability and watershed management will foster multidisciplinary and multi-scale research and community outreach programs that provide solutions to sustain and enhance environmental and watershed functions in Florida and other states in the Southeastern region,” said FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes Harris.

EPA and the FDEP signed the second MOU with FAMU designating the university as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. This is first Center of Excellence to be designated in Florida, the second HBCU, and the eighth in the Southeast. To become a recognized Center of Excellence, the institution must demonstrate technical expertise in identifying and addressing watershed needs; involvement of students, staff and faculty in watershed research; capability to involve the full suite of disciplines needed for all aspects of watershed management; financial ability to become self-sustaining; ability to deliver and account for results; willingness to partner with other institutions; and support from the highest levels of the organization.

Some of the benefits of being a recognized Center of Excellence include receipt of EPA technical assistance where needed (instructors, speakers, etc); promotion of the Center of Excellence to stakeholders; EPA letters of support for grant opportunities; and identification of opportunities for Center of Excellence involvement in local and regional watershed issues.

More information about priority watersheds in the Southeast is available online at:

Author Kevin Powell Tells FAMU it is Time to Start Uplifting Our Communities

Author and Social Activist Kevin Powell encouraged nearly 2,000 Florida A&M University (FAMU) students, faculty and staff members to start uplifting something greater than themselves.

Powell, who served as the keynote speaker for the Black History Month Convocation on February 17, enforced the need to give back to the African-American community.

“The worst thing we can do is talk in terms of ‘I,’” said Powell. “Make sure you reach back. We need you to reach back and help our communities. Just like Harriet Tubman went back for the slaves through the Underground Railroad. You have to have love in your life. If you really loved yourself, you would know the importance of the power of coming together.”

The product of a single-parent household, Powell said his mother would take him to the library when he was a youth “just to be around books.” He believes he would not be where he is in life if it was not for the people who saw the potential in him.

“Where do we go from here?” said Powell. “We got to read, we got to study. We need a new kind of leadership. If you don’t read, you become stagnant. We have to travel. We have to see this world to get an understanding of who we are. Our elders must learn to love our young people unconditionally, not with conditions. You have to respect young people.”

He challenged the audience members to no longer use words that are degrading, but rather uplift one another.

“I’m challenging you all as leaders to never use the term ‘ghetto’ and ‘hood’ to describe yourself,” Powell interjected. “We have to start telling these young brothers they are geniuses. Not because they can slam-dunk or make a basket but because they are brilliant. Brothers, the challenge for you all is to be men.”

One young man inspired by Powell’s words was Robert Parker-Crawford, a third grader at Astoria Park Elementary School. His mother, Kristin Parker, brought him to convocation to hear Powell speak.

“When I met him, he told me I was a genius,” Parker-Crawford said with a smile on his face. “I want to go to school at FAMU when I’m older.”

Parker said she wants her son to know his worth.

“I brought my son because I knew Kevin would say something he could relate to,” said Parker, 39, a Tallahassee native. “I want him to know that he has value in this city, in this country and in this world.”

Powell was presented with the President’s Award by Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris.

“Black history is American history,” said Hughes Harris. “It’s not just about honoring the leaders of the past… We enforce the fact that black history is the history of America.”

John Warford, visiting professor for the FAMU Department of History, said the key to success, especially in these days and times, is tied to a person’s development.

“You are the children of our ancestors and the ancestors of our children unborn,” said Warford, who gave the occasion during the program. “FAMU, look in the mirror and see greatness, see beauty, see development.”

FAMU Student Safely Returns Home from Egypt

After a three-day journey through four countries and five airports, Florida A&M University (FAMU) student Brittani Pope safely arrived in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday, February 3, from Cairo, Egypt where she was studying abroad at the American University.

Pope, 21, a fourth year professional MBA student with a minor in Arabic, was enjoying her international learning experience, along with hundreds of American students, who attend the American University each semester, before the protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had begun.

Pope had been in Egypt since the beginning of fall 2010 semester. She resided in a wealthy neighborhood called Dokki, which is ten minutes from downtown – the epicenter of the rioting – and an hour from her university.

“When it first started, we didn’t know the protesting was going to get so intense,” said Pope. “Suddenly, things began to escalate. People started clashing with the riot police. Stores began to close. A curfew was implemented for 6 p.m. then it was moved to 3 p.m. That is when it got dangerous; people began to break into stores.”

Pope and her roommate decided to stay home. The doorman to her building – to ensure their safety – did not allow the young ladies to leave, nor would he let visitors or unwanted guests inside.

“Random people would stop us if we were going to the store and ask if we were from the area,” said Pope. “They would say ‘maybe you should stay in, today is not a good day to be out’. The Egyptians are extremely helpful people. They would buy food for us to stay inside, and translate for us.”

Things grew extremely violent after President Mubarak cut off Internet and phone connection.

“I had no way to communicate with people to see what was going on or if they were ok,” said Pope.

The American students began to leave the country once the phone connection was reinstated. However, Pope was not ready to abandon her international experience. It wasn’t until she spoke with her brother, who encouraged her to go to Egypt after traveling there several times with the U.S. Army, that she considered returning.

When President Mubarak threatened to shut off the water supply, Pope knew at that moment it was time for her to leave. She contacted the U.S. State Department, who was providing emergency evacuations for U.S. citizens, and traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. From there she flew to Amsterdam, Netherlands then Atlanta, Ga., where she was stuck for 15 hours because of the blizzard, and finally back home in Chicago, Ill.

“Some of my American friends participated and were injured in the riots,” said Pope. “They took a huge risk by going to the frontline.”

Despite the cut-short abroad experience, the long journey back to the U.S. and days without communication with friends and loved ones, Pope is looking into her next study abroad adventure.