By Alexis Gary

Fla. State Sen. Dwight Bullard returned to his alma mater earlier this month as keynote speaker for Florida A&M University’s Black History Month Convocation.

 Sen. Bullard challenged students to stand up for fellow HBCU South Carolina State University as it battles to stay open. Members of the South Carolina State Legislature are proposing to shut down the university for two years as a way to regroup because the university is facing a $10 million deficit.

 Bullard urged FAMU students to take to Twitter. “I want you to send a message to the governor of South Carolina. Governor Nikki Haley, do what you must to Save SC State,” Bullard said.

 Audience member Alonzo Graham supported Bullard’s message. “I had no idea this was happening at South Carolina State. I am all for sending a message to the Governor. Sen. Bullard is right. We do need to stick together,” Graham said.

 Sen. Bullard went on to give students a short history lesson, citing an important milestone in the role that FAMU students played in Tallahassee’s black history. In sticking with his theme of taking action, Bullard told the audience about former FAMU students who during the civil rights movement fought for change in Tallahassee.

 “Inspired by a little Morehouse school and a young girl from Tuskegee, Florida A&M University students desegregated buses here in Tallahassee,” Bullard said.

 “I never really thought about the civil rights movement being in Tallahassee. It was interesting to hear the story,” FAMU junior Imir Hall said.

 Bullard encouraged students to think about the future and whether or not they were prepared to one day become leaders.

 “I challenge you to understand this. Throughout the history of this University, we have had to fight tooth and nail for the preservation of our institution, and I’ll be damned if in my tenure in the legislature [I] will allow FAMU to fall on my watch, but the catch is this: My time is limited, which means that there’s a torch that needs to be passed. It was passed on to me, and I will not let it extinguish before I pass it on to somebody who’s not only capable, but better than I could [have] ever been.”

 Sen. Bullard graduated from FAMU in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in history.