Words By: Vincent Montgomery
As many Americans plan to relax and enjoy the Martin Luther King, Jr. day holiday weekend, Florida A&M University rattlers are rolling up their sleeves and preparing to work.
From Jan. 15 through Jan. 18, FAMU will celebrate their first National Day of Service weekend, an opportunity for students and alumni to showcase service in their communities in honor of their alma mater.
The idea sprouted from FAMU President Elmira Magnum and FAMU leadership’s concern with community involvement.
“We needed a way to engage with our community to counteract the violence that constantly occurred,” Dr. John M. Lee, Vice President of the FAMU Division of Advancement, said.
Magnum, Lee and many other University leaders believed that highlighting Rattler service would accentuate FAMU’s attachment to the Tallahassee community. Soon, the plans stretched beyond the literal campus and extended nationally to the heart, hand and field of Rattlers wherever they may be.
The committee chose MLK weekend to align Rattler service with a legacy of love, humility, and stewardship.
One of FAMU’s very own stars, T’Keyah “Crystal” Keymah, will serve as this year’s honorary chairwoman.
“When I think of Florida A&M University, I think of how much it has served me personally and professionally,” Keymah said in her personal message on the FAMU Day of Service website. “I would love to see all Rattlers, across the country and around the world participate in this National Day of Service and encourage others to do the same.”
From her humble beginnings at FAMU, all the way to her fame as a TV star and actress in shows such as In Living Color, Cosby and That’s So Raven, Keymah has never failed to remember the “village” that raised her, or the people she shares a culture with.
She is a member of the NAACP Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological, Scientific Olympics program as well as an activist for health, education, the environment and civil rights. Keymah has also established scholarships at Meharry, FAMU to the Keymah Cultural fund, a program geared towards youth discovering and participating in cultural events.
It is her desire to uplift and her willingness to serve that made her as the first honorary chair. Her talents as an actress and writer was an added bonus.
The National Day of Service weekend will highlight Keymah, Phillip Agnew and many other Rattlers working during the MLK holiday. Rattlers across the nation will run cook-offs, canned food and clothing drives, BBQ’s, campus/street beautifications, sports tournaments, seminars, parades and performances distinctly for their respective communities.
“We want the legacy of service that has been a longstanding tradition at FAMU to continue on, and be carried beyond the Hill and into the different lives we lead.” Lee commented. And so it seems it will, with Keymah at the head and hundreds of thousands of Rattlers standing beside her. This legacy of being the community will continue on, as long as Rattlers are willing to serve.
To sign up for a service event and for more information , log on to www.dayofservice.famu.edu