Special to South Florida Times
MIAMI GARDENS — A baccalaureate service on Friday and graduation ceremonies Saturday at Florida Memorial University continued a centuries old tradition on the campuses of historically black colleges.
For the service, held in the Susie C. Holley Religious Center on FMU’s main campus, 168 men and women in graduate and undergraduate programs filed into the sanctuary to give thanks for their accomplishments and to hear the Rev. Dr. Larry T. Walthour II, senior pastor of St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church in Miami and an FMU alumnus, urge them on to greater achievements.
Walthour encouraged them to build bridges to the next generation. “That's a daunting and awesome task,” he said, “and it will take determination.''
Dr. Henry Lewis, incoming FMU president, challenged each graduate to "live up to the creed of the school.”
“You will be challenged to remember the circumstances from which Florida Memorial University was started. Your diploma is not just a piece of paper, but a ticket to go anywhere you want to go,” he said.
Lewis, who will be installed in February, also told the students to remember to give back to the university "in deeds and service.”
At commencement the following morning, Bishop Victor T. Curry of New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith and NAACP branch president, delivered a poignant address in which he weaved recollections of his bother Deacon Edward Curry, who died just days earlier. He was grieving for the sibling who had been his "protector, confidant and best friend.''
Curry, an FMU alumnus, told the graduates to remember that their purpose in life would always be greater than their pain. He urged them to pursue their purpose in life even through pain and disappointment.
"As you contemplate the future, you must move beyond the veil of complacency and demonstrate your willingness to serve. As you go through the battles, remember that life is made up of peaks and valleys. Today is your moment of greatness. Tomorrow is your challenge to maintain that greatness,'' Curry said.
"Rosa Parks,” he said, “was willing to sacrifice her life. In order to have a purpose-driven life, you must be willing to serve others. You must also have the ability to submit. And the key to submission is learning how to have and exercise your faith."
Curry received an honorary doctorate degree before leaving to give the eulogy at his brother's funeral.