SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
Bethune-Cookman University will be joined by Florida State Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) and host a press conference Friday, March 21 on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University to announce the Florida Legislature’s decision to approve annual recurring state funding for B-CU and other Florida HBCUs.
The press announcement will begin at 10 a.m. on B-CU’s campus. The announcement will also be streamed live on the B-CU Facebook page.
Funding for B-CU will total $17.3 million in recurring support with additional support of $15.75 million to be divided by Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University.
Bracy initiated discussions with Florida Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Tampa Bay), about this historic funding proposal during the early months of the summer legislative meetings in 2019, after B-CU Board Trustee Chairman Belvin Perry expressed concern to Bracy about B-CU’s future.
Representative Bruce Antone was joined by Florida Black Caucus membership who made this effort its priority, driven by Sen. Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D–Fort Lauderdale); Sen. Oscar Braynon (D–Miami Gardens); Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville); and Rep. Bobby DuBose (D–Fort Lauderdale), all of whom advocated for approval of the funding. Also supporting this effort were Sen. Rob Bradley (R–Orange Park); House Speaker Rep. Jose R. Olivia, (R–Miami Lakes), Rep. W. Travis Cummings (R Orange Park) and Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff (R–DeLand).
“I am honored to have been a part of this historic funding initiative. I’m thankful to President Galvano for engaging B-CU and me this past summer to get us to this moment,” Bracy said. “If approved by the Governor, this funding will mark a turning point in the trajectory of this historic institution and will help ensure its continued contributions to the African American community, and to American society at large.”
B-CU President Dr. E LaBrent Chrite expressed gratitude for the funding commitment: “This is a vital affirmation of the uniquely valuable role and history of Bethune-Cookman University across the state of Florida. This University’s commitment is to bridge the gap between ability and access, and we will now have the ability to ensure our long-term viability and competitiveness.”
Bracy, who served as Senate Appropriation sponsor, said the state’s investment in these three colleges is critical. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pre-date the integration of American institutions of higher learning and have launched the careers and contributions of a plethora of African American leaders in diverse industries.
Bracy, who bears multi-generational connections with each of these institutions to be supported, will expound on the significance of this funding at the press conference on Friday.
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano added, “I commend Senator Bracy for his leadership and tireless advocacy to secure the needed levels of funding.”
“This is a major investment and endorsement in Bethune-Cookman University and all that Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune intended when she founded this school,” said B-CU Board Chair Perry in the statement released on Wednesday. “This is a remarkable day in Florida history and we are profoundly grateful for the work and commitment that has been committed to HBCUs. We look forward to the governor’s support.”