Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy approached the microphone exultantly Monday to announce a victory he helped usher to a conclusion, funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs.)
Three Florida schools — Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University — will receive $30 million in the upcoming budget.
Funding for Bethune-Cookman will include more than $16 million in recurring support. Edward Waters and Florida Memorial will split an additional $14 million.
The win comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed more than $1 billion from the state budget, leaving few stones unturned. His inclusion of funding for HBCUs could signal an awareness of racial sensitivities following civil unrest related to the police slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Bracy, who served as the Senate Appropriations sponsor for HBCU funding, lauded DeSantis for making the funding official.
“This is a historic funding initiative and I would like to commend the Governor for signing this appropriation into law,” Bracy said. “I would also like to thank the Senate President Bill Galvano who was instrumental in this funding initiative started.”
Bracy said he made numerous trips to Tallahassee in the service of pushing the HBCU funding agenda, and he thanked members of the state’s black caucus for supporting the initiative.
Bethune-Cookman was founded as the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Girls in 1904, and it later launched the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville in 1923.
The institution was named Bethune-Cookman College in 1941 following approval from a four-year baccalaureate program, and in 2007, changed its name to Bethune-Cookman University.
Bracy cited one of the school’s mantras — enter to learn, depart to serve — and said he was thrilled for the school to chart a new future with state support.
“Mary McLeod Bethune started this school with $1.50, five girls and a dream in her heart,” he said. “Through the years, we have seen that dream expanded to educate young Black males and females all across this country to go out and make an impact on this world.”