African American Faculty and Staff Coalition holds banquet to celebrate successful ten years

Jasper Dewitt II, Staff Writer

A celebration honoring achievements and promoting success brought people together on Friday, Feb. 4, for the Tenth Annual Scholarship Banquet.

Members of faculty and staff congregated in the Ervin Dining Hall to proudly congratulate the members of the African American Faculty and Staff Coalition (The Coalition) for their ten-year anniversary of rewarding many students with scholarships to succeed in their academics.

Bringing the keynote speech to the annual scholarship banquet this year was Senator Kent M. Williams. Since 2004, Williams has been a representative of Florence County, Marion County, Marlboro County, and Dillon County, all of which make up District 30. Williams said that in order to stay successful everyone must work together the greatest success comes when everyone unites and works together as a whole.

“Just these three simple words from the organization’s motto – ‘Together We Can’ – are more than a motto,” Williams said. “All of us together as part of a body can move beyond potential to possible.”

As Williams encouraged everyone to work together, he constantly used Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example. Williams said that King was a proponent of unity and empowerment and that these are necessary to sow the seed of success. He said that all of the progress that King had made to the African American culture was not alone.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not march from Selma to Montgomery all by himself,” Williams said. “Neither did Dr. King preach about getting to the Promised Land all by himself.”

Williams pointed out that working together as a community was the main message that King preached. Williams said that unity within a community is ultimately the real meaning of success.

He also took some time of his speech to encourage the people to work together in the development of the Interstate 95 corridor. He stressed that working together on the development of the Interstate 95 corridor would economically improve the Pee Dee Region and ultimately create jobs. Before Williams concluded his speech, he challenged all of the scholarship recipients to strive for greatness.

FMU President Dr. Fred Carter said that he was proud of the coalition and the efforts that they have made in the past 16 years. He also announced that the university would cover the expenses of the banquet so that all funds could go to scholarships.

“I’m so proud of the coalition, and I’m so proud of what they have accomplished,” Carter said. “They have established, without question, not just one of the strongest programs within this university, but one of the strongest university scholarships within this state, inside this university.”

Before the banquet started, the coalition hosted a pre-reception for the attendees to gather and talk. As the people mingled together, many shared memories. Dr. Leroy Peterson of the Chemistry Department shared his memories from twenty years of teaching at FMU.

In December 2008, the coalition established the Dr. Leroy “Pete” Peterson Endowed Scholarship in honor of Peterson. The scholarship is awarded annually in the amount of one thousand dollars, with one five-hundred dollar scholarship being awarded each semester. Peterson said that he is glad to leave a legacy behind him of helping someone.

“After twenty years of teaching, I can say that I have seen a lot, and I have done a lot,” Peterson said. “In turn, I can ultimately say that I have helped through this scholarship.”