FAASA’s mission is to identify and alleviate obstacles that impede the progress of students of African descent enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the state of Florida and in our global society.
The Florida African-American Student Association, Incorporated (FAASA) was founded when seven institutions convened February 20-22, 1976 at the Ybor City Campus of Hillsborough Community College, with the purpose of developing, implementing, intensifying and perpetuating a complete program to identify and address educational, economic and cultural concerns of students of African descent. Those seven forming institutions, (Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Hillsborough Community College, Indian River Community College, Miami-Dade Community College, Palm Beach Community College, and St. Petersburg Junior College), gave the organization the name, ‘Florida Black Student Union’, FBSU. FAASA has since grown to represent nearly 200,000 students in colleges and universities throughout the state of Florida. African-American students at private colleges and universities had previously initiated similar meetings, however, they were regional, rather than statewide, and these meetings tended to focus on the problems and concerns of African-American students at predominantly European-American Institutions. The FBSU’s first official meeting represented the first statewide effort to unite African-American students throughout the state of Florida to include public and private institutions. The first FBSU President’s Conference was held in 1976 at the University of Central Florida. This set the precedent for holding two major annual meetings: The Presidential Conference in the fall and The State Convention in the spring.
The 1980’s began with the organization being chartered and changing its name from the Florida Black Student Union to the Florida Black Student Association, FBSA. During the same period, FBSA established it’s “PACE Plan” to promote Political activism, Academic excellence, Cultural awareness, and Economic empowerment. In 1983, one of the most significant strides in our history occurred when FBSA staged a Black Student Survival Rally and members marched from FAMU to the State Capitol to present grievances to the Florida Legislature. This demonstration of unity reflected very accurately the original theme and left a memorable impression on the legislators, who still acknowledge the concerns presented by FBSA. Another highlight during this era occurred in 1984. This highlight was the taping of the nationally-televised Reverend Jesse Jackson’s democratic presidential campaign address of his “Our Time Has Come” declarations, made at the State Convention at Broward Community College’s Central Campus. The 1989, 14th Annual State Convention was among the largest and most productive due to cooperation between the Black Student Union at Florida International University and Miami-Dade Community College, as they activated political empowerment in African communities in South Florida. Delegates in attendance voted to change the organization’s name to The Florida African American Student Association, Incorporated, FAASA.
“Cultural Diversity in Black: One Body, Many Faces” was the most appropriate theme. Delegates in attendance voted to change the organizations’ name to The Florida African American Student Association, Incorporated, FAASA. In addition, the organization adopted a new logo at this meeting. In 2005, the Annual Presidential Conference was changed to the Fall Leadership Institute and its motto to, “FAASA: Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.” It is now held in November, while the Annual State Convention convenes in April. In the summer of 2011, FAASA began the implementation of its Africa Study Abroad Program by conducting its first journey to the Motherland--Ghana, West Africa. Participants in the program were very enlightened and all agreed that it was a very “edu-taining” experience! In the Fall 2014, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP issued a Call to Action. They extended an invitation to all interested parties to stand with them in a display of solidarity and political activism, consistent with FAASA’s PACE Plan. FAASA did stand with the NAACP on what was called ‘Moral Monday’ in the state of Florida on March 3, 2014 at the State Capital in Tallahassee, Florida.
In the Fall of 2014, FAASA implemented its 4-Star Program – designed to recognize member chapters for effectively executing the PACE Plan. Pensacola State College emerged the winner of FAASA’s inaugural competition and was recognized at our 40th Annual State Convention as the 4-Star Chapter for the 2014-2015 year. Another significant milestone in the history of FAASA was accomplished in the spring of 2015: the founding of the Florida African American Student Association Education Foundation, Incorporated, to designate FAASA as an official 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Yet another significant display of political activism occurred in 2015 when FAASA implemented its inaugural “Day-On-The-Hill-Program”. Seven members of FAASA’s Board of Directors represented the organization in the 13th Annual State of Florida Summit at The Florida Conference of Black Legislators in Tallahassee, Florida, March 25-27, 2015. The FAASA delegation actively engaged in ‘FAMU Day at the Capital’ activities; the Unity March and Solidarity Rally, and contributed significantly to the state-wide telecast of the “Black Issues in Higher Education Conference”. The Highlight of the three-Day Summit was its Black-Tie Gala, where our Executive Board members orchestrated mini interviews with State Legislators and engaged them to give individual videotaped “shout outs” to their respective regions.
FAASA’s historic 40th Anniversary State Convention convened in Daytona Beach, Florida on April 14-17, 2016 under the theme “FAASA: 40 Years of Building Bridges-Continuing the Legacy of Our Ancestors.” Our Co-founders, Chairperson, Chapter Advisors, Past Presidents, former officers, and alumni were invited to participate in this momentous occasion. It should be noted for the record that several FAASA Alumni and each member of the Board of Elders purchased ads in honor of this significant milestone in our history. In addition, FAASA bestowed the title of Honorary member upon Dr. Na’im Akbar to our Board of Advisors. This status was conferred in recognition of Dr. Akbar’s longstanding support and his distinction as the most invited keynote speaker in FAASA’s brief history.
FAASA cancelled its 2020 Spring State Convention due to the advent of the coronavirus. FAASA responded by hosting its first ever Virtual National Black Student Leadership Summit in November 2020. Student leaders from California and Georgia participated in this historic event. In 2021, FAASA participated in FAMU’s Virtual Day at The Capital and convened its Virtual State Convention on April 16th and 17th. FAASA’s second Virtual National Black Student Leadership Summit was held in November of the same year.FAASA’s Virtual Annual State Convention was held on April 8, 2022. The theme was “Paving Paths Through Pandemonium“. FAASA was contacted by the Executive Director of Afrikan Black Coalition (ABC) and invited to participate in their conference on January 14—17, 2022. FAASA was well represented by former two-term President Kailah Ruffen.Today, the Florida African American Student Association, Incorporated, the parent association for all African Student Unions/Black Student Unions, and African American Student Unions in the state of Florida, still actively advances its mission and serves as the official voice for students of African descent at Florida’s colleges and universities.