*Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, best known for her starring roles on television’s “In Living Color,” “That’s So Raven,” “Cosby,” is still excited about her recent benevolent role as Honorary Chair for Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) 2016 National Day of Service, a four-day event honoring the birthday, life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A FAMU graduate, Keymáh was proud to help lead her Alma Mater’s first-time ever facilitation of a country-wide event to commemorate King.
FAMU’s National Day of Service morphed to encompass the weekend days of January 15 – 18, and was created for FAMU’s National Alumni Association (NAA) chapters to participate in projects to uplift, empower and serve people.
“I’m so glad that I was asked to serve as Honorary National Chair,” said Keymáh. “When President Obama asked the country a few years ago to honor Dr. King’s birthday with a day of service, I felt that it would be the best way to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy, and I participated. When FAMU’s President Elmira Magnum took up the banner and asked alumni to serve nationally, I was honored to accept the role as National Chair.
Some of FAMU’s 20-plus participating NAA chapters were inclusive of Detroit, MI (cleaned local park and recreation center), Washington, D.C. (read books and mentored children at Calvary Christian Academy, a K – 8 school, and distributed care packages to a facility for the underserved), Birmingham, AL (volunteered at Helping Hands Soup Kitchen), Chicago, IL (volunteered in activities to promote Project Safe Haven), Philadelphia, PA (implemented K- 12 book drive), Sanford, FL (orchestrated Rescue Mission Clothing Drive), Los Angeles, CA (assembled and delivered care packages to a L.A. youth center), and Las Vegas, NV (helped feed approximately 1,600 children through Serving Our Kids Foundation).
Keymáh on her participation with FAMU’s NAA Washington, D.C. Chapter at Calvary Christian Academy.
“I spoke in front of the entire student body,” said Keymáh. “I talked with them about Dr. King’s character, how he spoke out on what was wrong with this country while working to make it right, and how he stood his ground. I also donated books to the school.”
According to Keymáh, volunteers from the D.C. chapter also visited various classrooms to read to students and talk with them about the life and contributions of Dr. King. The following day (Saturday), FAMU alums gathered at another location to assemble and distribute care good items to a local center that caters to underserved populations.
For Keymáh, a Chicago native, service is second nature, and was fortified by her grandmother.
“My grandmother taught my siblings and me the worth of service and the value of empowering one’s community,” Keymáh recalled. “She also taught us about courage and the might of women. She taught us how to just do something when something has to be done. That was the habit that we all formed. If there’s something to be done, don’t think about it, just do it…find a way to get it done to help people.”
In metro Los Angeles, Keymáh has volunteered her time, talent, and money to support benevolent, philanthropic, and humanitarian endeavors and events sponsored by numerous organizations. Over the years, she has chaired the Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build, and as a member of Delta Sigma Theta, has participated in many Century City Alumnae Chapter events of empowerment.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, Keymáh will serve as one of several Honorary Hosts and readers at the 8th Annual Young Literati Toast at the County of Los Angeles Public Library’s AVALON Branch. Since 2000, Keymáh, through her non-profit Keymáh Cultural Fund (under the umbrella of Associated Black Charities), has empowered youth in underserved areas of the country by sponsoring them to attend culturally and socially empowering events. She also has established endowed scholarships at FAMU and MeHarry Medical College. In 2012, FAMU bestowed Keymáh with its Honorary Doctorate Degree of Humane Letters.
Keymáh is challenging other HBCUs, and their respective alumni chapters around the country, to expand projects beyond Dr. King’s Day of Service.
“A lot of people did many wonderful things on King’s Day of Service, but what are we doing next weekend, or the weekend after that? Let’s not wait until King’s Day of Service in 2017 to do something; let’s do something of empowerment everyday to help others in the name of Dr. King.”