FAMU Alum, Andrew Gillum, becomes the first black man to the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor
By: Ila Wilborn
Tallahassee Mayor and Florida A&M University alumnus, Andrew Gillum, made history Tuesday night as he received the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor. In what was considered an “unlikely win” by many opposers, Gillum secured the nomination with 34.3% of the votes, according to the New York Times. Gillum is no stranger to historical feats. While serving as FAMU’s Student Government Association President in 2001, Gillum became the first student to serve on the FAMU Board of Trustees. In 2003, while still attending FAMU, he became the youngest ever to be elected to the Tallahassee City Commission, at just 23 years old.
“I cannot thank enough my Florida A&M University family who have held me up all throughout
this race,” Gillum said in his victory speech Tuesday night. “I sincerely believe that what is going to deliver us to victory in November is the fact that there are every day hard working people in this state who believe that they deserve a voice in our government too, and we’re going to give it to them,” he said.
FAMU students played a major role in supporting their fellow Rattler, Gillum. “FAMU helped
Gillum win through exposure. Being able to reach the youth and the African American vote was
a huge success for him considering he was in fourth place a week before securing the
nominee,” Zaran Smith, a current FAMU student said. Gillum’s historical win brings positive attention to the university and its current and former students. “It shows FAMU grads and any student of color that anything is possible. It’s a new horizon for FAMU students, it also sheds a national light on FAMU as a prestiges university,” Jabari Brown, a recent FAMU graduate said. Many students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCUs, have often felt that society does not treat them the same as their Primarily White Institutions, PWI, counterparts. “We’re continuously told that we don't meet the status quo. There are many times that we’re often discouraged and intimidated by PWIs and this is just a reality check and it brings us the realization that black excellence is real,” Cierra Thomas, a current FAMU student said. “This is important for HBCU students especially because it shows that we can. Even coming from an HBCU where were underrated, often doubted by the masses. We still can run a race with the PWIs and come out on top,” said FAMU student Onyx Franklin.
Gillum’s focus is on criminal justice reform, education, women’s rights, gun safety, expanding
healthcare, environmental protection, among many other issues that can be found on his official
campaign website. “My name on the ballot is simply a vessel, it’s simply the name. But what is underneath that name are all the issues that we care so deeply about,” Gillum said.
“The truth is, that these aren't republican or democratic issues, the job of the Governor of the
state of Florida is to do what is in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida. I look
forward to being that governor,” he said. Gillum’s platforms resonated with many FAMU students, prompting them to support him. “I believe Andrew Gillum deserved my vote one because of his ability to relate to me,” Smith said.
“Not only because of his skin color, but because his work ethic is what got him his nominee, not
a wealthy upbringing or social status. Two, because of his progressive platform on policies
pertaining to marijuana, taxing rich corporations, for education and abolishing ICE,” Smith said.
ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is currently under fire for the separation of
thousands of children of illegal immigrants from their parents.
FAMU student, Lyric Porter explains why Gillum’s platform is so important to her. “It promotes
the needs of everyday people,” she said.
“He is trying to make the quality of life for working class individuals better and less stressful. He
wants to provide higher paying jobs, sufficient education in public schools, and more affordable
healthcare which are all major concerns of average Floridians,” said Porter.
“I voted for him because he wants to be of service to the individuals he encounters on a daily
basis and make sure more programs are accessible to them and their families.” she said.
After Gillum’s win, President Donald Trump took to his Twitter page to call Gillum a “failed
Socialist,” who “has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city.”
Andrew Gillum responded with what he feels the state of Florida needs in a Governor.
ABC’s First Coast News writer, Jackson Puckett, reported in an article, “While Tallahassee and
Leon County continue to have the highest crime rate in Florida, the total number of crimes
actually decreased during Gillum’s term.”
Trump endorsed Republican nominee, Ron DeSantis, was a guest on FOX News when he said,
“the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with
huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” After Trump and DeSantis’ remarks, Gillum was recently the subject of a racist robocall that went out over the state in which a man pretending to be Gillum said, “We Negroes...done made mud huts while white folk waste a bunch of time making their home out of wood and; stone,” reported the Washington Post. The ad was paid for by The Road to Power, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi group. Though there are many opposed to supporting Andrew Gillum, he has still has garnered over one hundred endorsements by community organizations and political leaders, most notably,
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, fellow FAMU Alumnus Florida Rep. Ramon Alexander, and
recently, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. On November 6th, Gillum and DeSantis will face off in the Florida Governor race. “This is not my moment, this is our moment,” Gillum said.
Ventress Johnson (TXSU)