The Cable News Network made its first stop at Florida A&M University this month for it’s first ever Black in America Historically Black College or University Tour.
“I think it was just as important for (CNN) as it was for the students to bring the event to Florida A&M University.” said Chris Lawrence, CNN correspondent from the Los Angeles bureau. “I think the whole point is to open up that dialogue and talk to Florida A&M University students, faculty and alumni to figure out what makes Florida A&M unique, what makes it so special and why is there such an intense feeling of history and loyalty for the school.”
During the live segments, CNN broadcast interviews with FAMU President James H. Ammons, faculty and students.
“I think it’s important that CNN came to FAMU to see what was on the minds of young Black people who could very well be the leaders of this country,” said Keeyon Upkins, 21, a business administration student from Jackson, Miss.
Skyy Sandifer said she thinks FAMU will receive the exposure it needs and students can represent the school in a positive way from the CNN visit.
Kiara Wright agreed.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity for Florida A&M to showcase some of the many things that we have to contribute to Black America,” said Wright, a native of Alexandria, Va. “I feel like it is an honor to be picked as the first school just to jump it off because I feel like we can represent HBCUs the way they need to be represented,” she added.
Scot Safon, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of CNN Worldwide, said, “Black in America” is a worldwide CNN multi-platform event about issues that directly impact the future of all Americans.
“The response from the students and the schools has been extraordinary, and their participation is an important part of this story,” Safon said.
Senior journalism student Jermaine Fletcher was the winner of the CNN Campus iReporter Contest, whose prize will be a digital video camera. Fletcher will also be able to submit additional footage from their Black in America campus stop to win the grand prize, a trip for two to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend.
“I was shocked and more amazed, only because of how fast it gained attention,” Fletcher said. “I got a phone call less than 24-hours after I sent my video, that it would be on the CNN Web site, and in another 24-hours I got another phone call to notify me that I won the competition. It was amazing.”
On the topic, “What does it mean to be Black in America,” Fletcher said it was important to have multiple perspectives.
“Black people aren’t monolithic by nature,” he said. “I felt the impact would be greater if I had more than one opinion and more people would connect to it.”
Anthony Robertson, 22, a health care management student from Miami said being Black in America means to him representing yourself in a positive light.
“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants who have worked hard for us to even come to this university,” Robertson said. “And now I think we have so many opportunities to better ourselves.”
Reginald Tooley II, of Memphis, said it was important for CNN to visit the university so they would see the culture of the university and let people know that African Americans are educated and productive individuals.
For more information, please visit CNN.com’s interactive special section at www.CNN.com/Blackinamerica.