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FAMU President Larry Robinson on Tallahassee, national unrest: 'We can and must do better'

Byron Dobson
Tallahassee Democrat
Walton Sun

FAMU President Larry Robinson says America must do better in confronting injustices that are currently roiling the nation.

His statement comes as two of the university’s graduates are mayors in cities rocked by protests, and as police confrontations erupt in his hometown of Memphis.

“As we continue to navigate through uncertain times, we are also dealing with a fragile moment in our history,” Robinson said in a statement released Sunday, referring to last week’s death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Recent events around the country remind us that the fight for civil rights and equal justice under the law is far from over,” Robinson said.

“I am most proud of Atlanta Mayor and FAMU alumna Keisha Lance Bottoms and St. Paul Mayor and alumnus Melvin Carter, standing tall in leading their respective cities.”

Florida A&M University students were at the forefront of challenging injustices 64 years ago during the Tallahassee Bus Boycott, Robinson noted.

“Sixty-four years ago, students protested peacefully, which is a part of the FAMU tradition and legacy,” he said.

Robinson, who was an active member of the NAACP when he lived in Memphis, also invoked two quotes from the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

Robinson released the statement as protests involving students from FAMU, Florida State, Tallahassee Community College and elsewhere continue in Tallahassee in response to recent police-involved shootings here.

“While crimes against African American men in particular (are) once again front and center and have touched a nerve in our nation, we must remember what Dr. King taught, 'Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.' "

Robinson said social justice protests come as the country celebrates the historic launch from Florida of NASA astronauts in a commercial rocket to the International Space Station.

“If we can do that, clearly, we have the capacity to make the necessary changes to create, as our founding fathers wrote, 'a more perfect union,' ” Robinson said.

“Florida A&M University stands ready and willing to help in the fight for social justice. We can and must do better.”

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

This story originally published to tallahassee.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.