FAMU leaders find unity on common ground

TALLAHASSEE — Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) key leaders and patrons were unified behind ensuring a bright future for the nation’s leading historically black university. Four hundred of the faithful filled the Grand Ballroom to capacity paying tribute to the institution’s past, present and interim presidents at the Legacy Banquet, which was sponsored by the Bethel Empowerment Foundation of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

The celebration was a welcomed event, and it also provided an opportunity to calm the heated feud between President Elmira Mangum and Board of Trustees Chairman Rufus Montgomery that has captured headlines for weeks.

Earlier that day the Reverend R.B. Holmes, Jr., pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, brought Mangum and Montgomery together in a press availability. They were joined by the presidents and clergy in a unified commitment to the FAMU legacy of excellence.

President Mangum announced the appointment of former Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. to chair the strategic planning committee that will provide the roadmap for the university’s development in the future. Montgomery also discussed his plans for a BOT strategic plan.  The message was clear, however, that all would work toward what was in the best interest of FAMU.

At the banquet, each past president discussed their passion for the university, their unique relationship and legacy.  They also offered advice that was laced with humor and a warning.  Former president Frederick Humphries, Ph.D., responsible for ushering in what is considered FAMU’s golden years, received rousing applause for his comments and discussion of the University legacy.

Humphries also described how he coined the famous “Rattler Charge” then the audience chanted it with him.  “There is no question FAMU is a special place. Anyone inheriting the mantle must understand the legacy of Florida A&M University,” he said.

Over 400 of the University stakeholders paid $100 a ticket to attend the event, and the proceeds will benefit FAMU athletics.


  • Walter Smith, Ph.D. 1977-1985
  • Frederick Humphries, Ph.D. 1985-2001
  • Henry Lewis, Ph.D.  (interim president) January 2002-June 2002
  • Fred Gainous, Ph.D. 2002-2004
  • Castell Bryant, Ph.D.  (interim president) January 2005-May 2007
  • James Ammons, Ph.D. July 2007-July 2012
  • Larry Robinson, Ph.D. (interim president) July 2012-March 2014
  • Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. April 2014-present

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