Florida A&M

Memorial Day: Remembering Sgt. Edmond L. Randle Jr.

 

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On Jan. 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq.
 
Today is Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those that have given their lives in military service to this country. It is not just a day off from work or school or a day to have a barbecue with family and friends; it is a day to celebrate men and women such as Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr., known by family and friends as Dake.
 
On Jan. 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq. Randle was one of three soldiers who died that day when their vehicle was struck by a homemade explosive device near Baghdad. I recall sitting through Dake’s funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Miami, listening to the FAMU Band play and the moving tributes to him by friends and military officials. I'd known Dake’s parents from high school; his dad and I were classmates at Miami Central and later at Florida A&M.
 
Dake attended American Senior High for part of his high school years but continued the family tradition by graduating from Miami Central Senior High. Like his Dad, Dake was a standout musician in the Marching Rockets at Miami Central and continued at Florida A&M University where he earned a music scholarship and was a section leader in the famous Marching 100. Because he wanted to be a pharmacist, Dake gave up his music scholarship and volunteered for the Army which would help fund his educational plans. He was the type of young man not celebrated enough, in life, in this community.
 
The war in Iraq takes on a different meaning when you actually know a soldier that was killed. Like Sgt. Edmond L. “Dake” Randle, many other lives have been lost and are being lost in service to this country. On Veteran's Day, I honor several men and women I know, living and deceased, who have served and are serving this country. Dake, however, is the only soldier I know personally that died in military service. I have remembered him each Memorial Day since his death, that is the least I can do.
 
If you have loved ones who died while serving this country, take a moment to thank them, feel free to leave their names in the comments section. For all of our fallen heroes, known and unknown, thank you, you are not forgotten.
 
 

AKAs Present Virtual Spring Preview of Florida A&M University, 11 AM Saturday March 27

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On Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 11 AM, the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will present a Virtual Spring Preview spotlighting Florida A&M University.

This event targets high school juniors and seniors. Parents and interested prospective students are invited to attend. Not only will participants experience a virtual tour of the university, but you can also learn about admissions, financial aid, academic programs, housing and more.

Community service hours will be awarded to students. Click here to register.


Presidents of FAMU, Howard, Spelman and SCSU Unite for FAMU Black History Month Virtual Town Hall on “The Rise and Relevance of HBCUs”

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FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., will be joined by presidents from Howard University, Spelman College and South Carolina State University for the University’s annual Black History Month Town Hall. The 90-minute virtual event, themed “The Rise and Relevance of HBCUs,” will feature Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, M.D., Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., and South Carolina State University President James E. Clark. It will be streamed live at 7 p.m. ET, on Thursday, February 11, 2021, via Zoom and the Florida A&M University Facebook page.


Local Kwanzaa Celebration Marks Thirty Years

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The week long Pan-African holiday known as Kwanzaa was first observed in 1966 in California.  This year marks the 30th consecutive year of the local celebration hosted by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association. Recognizing the uplifting and community-building potential of it’s core values or seven principles, Dr. Freddie G. Young initiated the push to celebrate Kwanzaa. Event chair Vanessa Woodard Byers recalls the meager beginnings of the celebration being held in the living room of Dr. Young’s condominium with the kinara and other symbols being sketched on poster board by her brother, Harlan Woodard. Their mother, Mary Williams Woodard chaired the presentation of the event for many years. Since it was a labor of love for her, the organization’s members chose to name the event in her honor after she transitioned in 2010.

In keeping with the spirit of Kwanzaa, the free event grew from a FAMU alumni association event to a true community celebration in collaboration with other organizations and international artists. The event grew from private homes to public facilities with attendance as large as 500 the year Tavis Smiley was the featured speaker. Byers would like to see the event garner enough support to present a countywide coordinated event each day of the week as the holiday was designed. In the meantime, an invitation is extended to this year’s milestone celebration with a challenge to everyone to make Kwanzaa a lifestyle.

If You go:

30th ANNUAL MARY WILLIAMS WOODARD LEGACY KWANZAA CELEBRATION. This joyous celebration of family, friends and community is the largest and longest-running local public celebration of the Nguzo Saba (Principles of Kwanzaa) in the Miami area. 

MARY WILLIAMS WOODARD LEGACY KWANZAA CELEBRATION 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

3:00pm - 6:00pm

City of Opa-locka Municipal Complex

780 Fisherman Street

2nd Floor

Opa-locka, FL 33054

 

Hosted by City of Opa-locka Vice Mayor Chris Davis, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association, the Dr. Arthur & Mary Woodard Foundation for Education and Culture and Chief Nathaniel Styles, Jr. of Osun's Village African Caribbean Arts Corridor in partnership with the Opa-locka CDC, Zoe's Dolls and Next Generation Dance Academy. 

The event is FREE. Register at KwanzaaMiami30.eventbrite.com. Remember that Kwanzaa is a non-religious, non-political, family-friendly holiday. Enjoy the Soul Food Feast (Potluck donations are welcome.), music, dancing and celebrating with friends.

Donations of books and new, unwrapped educational toys are greatly appreciated. This year’s donated books and educational toys will benefit the Children’s Unit of New Horizons Mental Health Center, Inc.

If you have any questions, email Vanessa Byers at vanessawbyers@gmail.com or call (305) 343-9088. Thank you. HARAMBEE!


Judge Rodney Smith Receives Lifetime Appointment to Federal Bench

Judge Rodney Smith
The Honorable Rodney Smith, Judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida

On June 12, 2019, at 2:43 pm ET, Florida Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith ascended to the position of judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida via confirmation vote of 78-18 by the United States Senate. The position of federal judge is a lifetime appointment.

Smith’s confirmation is reason for many to celebrate throughout Florida and around the nation. He graduated from Miami Northwestern Senior High School, a historically-black public school in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. To complete his undergraduate studies, he attended Florida A&M, a historically-black public university. He continued to reach his educational goals by earning a degree from Michigan State University College of Law, a non-Ivy League law school. 

His path to the federal judgeship began with the nomination by President Donald J. Trump for the judicial seat. Smith completed an extensive questionnaire and was advanced for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. He was selected as one of ten finalists for federal judge. As part of the process, the committee sends a blue slip to senators from the home state in which the judicial nomination was received. A senator from the nominee's home state can approve the nominee and advance the nomination to the full Senate or disapprove or take no action regarding the nominee thus ending the process for the nominee becoming a federal judge.

Smith interviewed with Senator Marco Rubio and then Senator Bill Nelson. He also interviewed with White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice. He was formally nominated in May 2018, but upon the adjournment of the 115th Congress in January 2019, Smith’s nomination was returned to the President. He was re-nominated later that month upon the convening of the 116th Congress.

Fifty-one affirmative votes were required for Smith’s confirmation. With a final vote of 78-18, he received many more votes than needed. There was still concern that 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were among the 18 senators voting against his confirmation while Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders were among the four senators who did not vote at all.

Smith began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office in 1999. He later practiced at several private law firms before joining the Office of the City Attorney for Miami Beach as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in 2007. He was appointed County Court Judge by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008. In 2012, Smith was appointed circuit court judge by Gov. Rick Scott where he served until his elevation to federal judge.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida includes the following counties: Miami-Dade; Broward; Palm Beach; Monroe; St. Lucie; Martin; Highlands; Indian River and Okeechobee. The Southern district has jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases in those counties that fall under federal law.

Smith is a highly-regarded attorney and highly-respected in the community. He is proof that faith, hard work and a great attitude can take you far in life. He is a member of several organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, 100 Black Men of South Florida, Jack & Jill Dads, Boy Scouts of America; FAMU National Alumni Association, and 5000 Role Models of Excellence. Judge Smith and his family are active members of New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International.

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Judge Rodney Smith was sworn by Judge Donald Graham on Monday, June 17, 2019 at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse in Miami.
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Judge Rodney Smith and son with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and fellow  5000 Role Models and staff.
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Judge Rodney Smith and fellow members of 100 Black Men of South Florida. From left, Judge Darrin P. Gayles, Stephen Hunter Johnson, Pierre Rutledge and Torrence Phillips. 
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Judge Rodney Smith with his brothers of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
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Judge Rodney Smith with fellow FAMUans Kenneth Williams and Thomas Jones who are also his Alpha Phi Omega brothers and members of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association.
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Friends accompanied Judge Rodney Smith for his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. From left, Christopher Norwood, Larry Handfield, Hans Ottintot, Samuel Mustipher and Robert Tyler.



 


Longest-running local community Kwanzaa Celebration continues at The ARC in Opa-locka [VIDEO]

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The Spirit of Kwanzaa lives in Miami-Dade County. On Saturday, December 29, 2018, it was demonstrated at The ARC (Arts & Recreation Center) in the beautiful City of Opa-locka, Florida. The 29th Annual Mary Williams Woodard Legacy Kwanzaa Celebration evolved into a true community event welcomed by various groups and entities beyond its local beginnings. 

More than 150 people were in attendance as the traditional procession of the Council of Community Elders was announced via drummer Jah Will B. Elders are not recognized because of age but due to their contributions to the community. Many are often unsung heroes. This year’s elders included Chief Nathaniel B. Styles Jr. who also served as event MC; HRH Iya Orite Adefunmi; School Board Member Dorothy Bendross Mindingall; Bernadette Cecelia Poitier; Rubye Howard; Thomasina Turner-Diggs; Eric Pettus; “Broadway” Cuthbert Harewood; James Wright; Amare and Amani Amari; Netcher Hopi Mose and Angela Berry.

Because of construction at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, where the event has been presented for many years, its consecutive presentation would have been interrupted were it not for Opa-locka Vice Mayor Chris Davis; Nakeisha Williams and the Opa-Locka CDC; and Nakia Bowling of Zoe’s Dolls. 

As is customary, the Nguzo Saba, Seven Principles of Kwanzaa and symbols of Kwanzaa were explained with the assistance of audience members and the Ivy Rosettes of Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority who also served as hostesses. Tracey Jackson delivered the welcome on behalf of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association. Remembering those who have transitioned is an important aspect of Kwanzaa. Dr. Natasha C. Stubbs delivered a moving recognition of local and national individuals who became deceased since last year’s Kwanzaa event. Entertainment was provided by the Next Generation Dance Academy and poets Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns and realproperlike. New World School of the Arts junior, Nicholaus Gelin, serenaded attendees with his trumpet during the feast portion of the evening.

“We enjoyed the event,” said a mother who traveled from Coral Springs with her son and his best friend to attend the celebration. They said they will attend next year and the boys want to participate on the program. 

The Kwanzaa Celebration is hosted by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU Alumni Association, the Dr. Arthur and Mary Woodard Foundation for Education and Culture; and Osun’s Village African Caribbean Cultural Arts Corridor.

 



 

 

 

 

 


Longest Running Local Public Kwanzaa Celebration Moves to The ARC in Opa-locka on 12/29/18

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Miami, FL December 23, 2018: For almost three decades the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association has celebrated the seven-day Pan-African holiday of Kwanzaa. This year, due to renovations at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and the absence of many members traveling to witness the University’s famous marching band participate in the Rose Bowl and surrounding activities, it seemed the event would not take place. 

When one of the organization’s community partners found out the celebration was going on hiatus this year, the true Spirit of Kwanzaa took over and plans were quickly changed. On Saturday, December 29, at 3 pm, the 29th Annual Mary Williams Woodard Legacy Kwanzaa Celebration will take place at The ARC (Arts & Recreation Center), 675 Ali Baba Avenue, Opa-locka, FL 33054,

“We are deeply appreciative that Opa-locka Vice Mayor Chris Davis, the Opa-locka CDC, Zoe’s Dolls and Next Generation Dance Academy reached out to help. Their support lets us know our teaching the Principles of Kwanzaa at this celebration through the years, has not been in vain,” said Vanessa Woodard Byers, event chair, and daughter of the late Mary Williams Woodard, educator and Kwanzaa advocate for whom this celebration is named. 

Kwanzaa is a non-religious, non-political community-building and family-strengthening holiday. The community is invited to come out and learn more about it. There will be music, dance, poetry and other artistic demonstrations. One of the highlights of the event is the distribution of dolls by young philanthropist, speaker, and business executive, Zoe Terry. Through her company, Zoe’s Dolls, dolls are given to little black and brown girls as a vehicle for building self-esteem and pride in their self-image. 

The event is free but register online at KwanzaaMiami29.eventbrite.com. Donations of books and new, unwrapped educational toys, for children in the local community, are appreciated. Potluck food donations for the Feast are also welcome. It is hosted by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association, the Dr. Arthur & Mary Woodard Foundation for Education and Culture and Chief Nathaniel Styles, Jr. of Osun's Village African Caribbean Arts Corridor in partnership with the Opa-locka CDC, Zoe's Dolls and Next Generation Dance Academy.

For more information, email Vanessa Woodard Byers at vanessawbyers@gmail.com or call (305) 343- 9088. Event updates are available on Facebook at Celebrate Kwanzaa in Miami and on Twitter at @KwanzaaMiami. 

HARAMBEE!

Here's video of last year's event courtesy of LaShannon of PrPlMiami.

 

 


$1.1M Available to Black-Owned Businesses in Florida. Come Out Thursday, August 23 to See If Your Business Qualifies

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Thanks to a $1.1 million grant included in last year’s budget,   black-owned businesses across the state can now apply for a loan through a program administered by the Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union in partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Locally, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union will present LOANS AND LENDING FOR BLACK BUSINESS OWNERS, 6:30pm-8:00pm, Thursday, August 23, 2018, St. Paul AME Church, V.F. Mitchell Fellowship Hall, 1866 NW 51 Terrace, Miami, FL 33142. 

“The MDCPS Office of Economic Opportunity is excited to partner with the FAMU Federal Credit Union and provide meaningful information on loans and lending to local black businesses,” said Torey Alston, head of OEO for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Learn more about the application process and requirements to access these funds. The event is FREE to attend. You may RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introducing-florida-am-university-credit-union-tickets-48927176502. Please share this information with your networks.

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@vanessawbyers

 


FAMU Marching 100 selects first female drum major

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Remember her name. Florida A&M University's Cori Renee Bostic, an Atlanta native, has made history as the first female drum major of its world renown, incomparable Marching 100 band. This move is so major. The Marching 100 tradition didn’t allow women in the band until 1974. Carmena Fennell, Carla Wilson and Debra Hines were the trailblazers.

Bostic is a junior in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Tau Beta Sigma Sorority. The FAMU half-time performances just got more interesting. Who knew that was possible? Homecoming 2018 will be LIT! 

 

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Miami’s Melissa Mitchell wins SPANX Illuminate-Her™️ Art Contest!

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Congratulations to Melissa Mitchell, winner of the SPANX Illuminate-Her™️ Art Contest! Melissa is an Atlanta-based, self-taught artist, who has a love of vibrant colors, unique shapes, and bold dark lines. Born and raised in Miami, she attributes her Bahamian heritage, melodic sounds and the colorful world around her as her greatest inspirations.  Her art has been featured around the world. Her unique head wraps, Abeille Creations, have adorned the likes of Lupita N’yongo featured in Vogue magazine. Melissa is a proud graduate of Florida A&M University and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Her art will debut on SPANX styles next Spring. Stay tuned!