Perry plants the seed of leadership, education at FAMU's MLK Convocation
By Evan Miles, Editor. Photos by Karl Etters. Video by SearcyLawVideo
|Keynote speaker Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry receives a standing ovation from Florida A&M University Interim President Larry Robinson and|
FAMU faculty Tuesday atthe university's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation
In remembrance of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of leadership, Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry encouraged Florida A&M University students Tuesday to become leaders themselves, despite the odds.
“I’m trying to plant the seed to let you know that you don’t have to have a fabulous pedigree to achieve things,” Perry said.
Perry recalled the announcement of King’s assassination in 1968 while he was a lieutenant in the army.
|Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry|
“King is dead. Whitney Young is dead. Malcolm is dead,” the news anchor he was watching said. He continued to ask the rhetorical question, “Who will lead them now (African-Americans)?”
That was the moment Perry knew he wanted to become a lawyer.
The former attorney was the first African-American appointed to Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit. A man of many accolades and achievements, Perry said he owes his success to taking leaps of faith and not being afraid of greatness.
“I never expected to be on the Supreme Court Judge,” he said. “Life has a way of doors opening, but you have to be able to recognize it when it happens.”
Perry also briefly referenced FAMU’s recent public controversy in his speech.
“Bad thing are going to happen to you,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that has to define this institution. It means that you have to work a little harder.”
The speech resonated with students such as Diliesha Bryant, a fourth-year occupational therapy student and president of the FAMU chapter of NAACP.
“You first have to follow to be a leader,” Bryant said. “ I've been with NAACP since I was a freshman, and I followed before I got the opportunity to lead. “
Other students, including Ciera Reed, a fourth-year social work and psychology student, were motivated by Perry’s urge for leadership among African-Americans.
“His speech was very uplifting and encouraging for a lot of people and made us rethink the significance of us coming to college,“ the 24-year-old from Marietta, Ga., said.