DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the first black gubernatorial candidate to represent a major party in Florida.
Now, his ticket is bringing a wave of hope to young black students at historically black colleges and universities.
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"If he wins, he'll become the first African-American to become governor in the state of Florida," Dr. Dorcas McCoy told her students.
McCoy has spent years teaching international studies and political science at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.
"I often tell students that anything is possible," McCoy said.
She said she didn't expect the possibility of a black governor but had always hoped for it. Now, Gillum could defy the tradition.
"It reminds us of the Obama days," McCoy said.
Student Emontae Thomas said it brings him hope.
"That’s saying we made a big leap in terms of history," said Thomas, who is a junior computer information technology student.
Thomas said Gillum's opportunity also makes a statement.
"Back then, they didn't even let people like us go nowhere near powers like governor or presidents, so now that's pretty cool," Thomas said. "That means people like me or even younger generations can go up there and be well respected people."
McCoy said not only does Gillum's physical appearance resonate with students, but it's also his background of being a first-generation college student, like many who walk the Bethune-Cookman campus.
"That speaks to the hearts and souls of many of our students who are first-generation college students, so it reminds them that it is possible you can achieve your dreams," McCoy said.
No matter whether Gillum wins or loses in November, McCoy said it's about the possibility of historically black colleges and universities benefiting monetarily, along with the endless opportunities of chasing dreams in the future.
"It would be an awesome feeling for our students to be able to look into the mirror, and although they see the governor... they (also) see themselves," McCoy said.
McCoy said historically black colleges and universities could possibly benefit monetarily if Gillum wins. He's pledged $1 billion toward education. He also graduated an HBCU: Florida A&M University.