Orange Blossom Classic returning to Miami Gardens despite DeSantis’ ban on funding for DEI programs

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Event organizers kicked off the reunion and return of the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami Gardens on Tuesday,

The event was revived in 2021 after a 43-year hiatus and will feature a rematch between the Florida A&M University Rattlers and Jackson State University Tigers at Hard Rock Stadium.

The event puts the focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCUs, and the rich history surrounding football and the community.

Angela Suggs, of the Florida Sports Foundation, told Local 10 News that she believes there’s no better place to host the event.

With this specific HBCU Historically Black Colleges and Universities, legendary classic event, there’s no place better than Miami Gardens to host this legendary event,” she said. “Miami Gardens is the sports capital of the state of Florida.”

But as the historic game approaches, many wonder if state capital politics will rain on the big game parade.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned public college and universities like FAMU, from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, or DEI programs, after calling them “discriminatory.”

The NAACP says the state of Florida has become “hostile” to Black Americans under the state’s current administration.

As a result, the organization recently issued a travel advisory for Florida.

“The history of the Orange Blossom Classic, dating back to 1933 has, and will always be, celebrating our institutions when others have not,” said Kendra Bulluck, Orange Blossom Classic Committee Executive Director.

Bulluck told Local 10 News that she expects more than 30,000 fans to fill Hard Rock Stadium when the game takes place on Labor Day Weekend.

She says since the event’s 2021 revival, the OBC has brought in $33 million for economic impact relief, supported 9,000 local jobs and provided $2 million to FAMU and JSU.

Despite the political backlash, Bulluck encouraged fans and alumni to continue supporting.

“We’re supporting student-athletes, we’re supporting our institutions and we’re supporting our community,” she said.

Since the return of the OBC, Jackson State has won both matchups by defeating FAMU by scores of 7-6 in 2021 and 59-3 in 2022.

About the Authors:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.