While campaigning at Jackson State University’s homecoming game, Brandon Presley, the Democratic nominee for governor, encountered an unexpected interruption. A DJ in the midst of the tailgating tents took hold of a microphone and posed a question that threw Presley off script.
Asking Presley about his plans for supporting HBCUs, the man inquired if he would continue to do so beyond the first year.
Amidst the cheers and applause, Presley, who had also campaigned at an Alcorn State University game the previous weekend, made a promise to the crowd: “I guarantee that I will be back at Alcorn and here again next year.”
As one of the largest football events of the year, an impromptu exchange took center stage during an hours-long campaign on Saturday – just a mere 24 days before Election Day. Presley, who is set to face off against Gov. Tate Reeves on November 7th, spent his time shaking hands and taking selfies with avid supporters at the JSU game. By doing so, he hoped to energize voters and encourage them to turn out in full force for the upcoming general election.
With over 80% of the population being Black, the university holds a significant place in the state’s capital city. For Presley, winning the election to become the first Democrat governor since 1999 is a challenging task. Therefore, mobilizing a substantial portion of the metro area and gaining the support of the Black voters, who form the base of the Democratic Party, will be vital for the campaign’s success.
During a recent interview with reporters, Presley emphasized the importance of showing up as a gubernatorial candidate in Mississippi, where 40% of the population is Black. Instead of expecting Black voters to automatically support a candidate, Presley believes it’s crucial to earn their vote through genuine effort and engagement.
Presley, who has been the utility regulator for the northern part of Mississippi for the past 15 years, may face a challenge in the upcoming election due to his lack of presence on a statewide ballot. As he is relatively unknown in central Mississippi, this could potentially hurt his chances of winning.
On Saturday, State Senator Sollie Norwood, a Democrat from Jackson who is also a proud alumnus of Jackson State, took on the role of primary liaison between the large crowd of fans and the Democratic candidate. His reason for doing so was because he strongly believes that there are still some residents of the capital city who may not be fully familiar with Presley and her platform.
According to Norwood, there was an incredible turnout of people who were eager to see him. He mentioned that everyone he spoke to was thoroughly impressed by him and his message.
Despite his background as a 46-year-old white man from northeast Mississippi and attending Mississippi State University, Presley may seem like an unlikely candidate to mingle with the university’s alumni at the homecoming game.
According to Mississippi Today, a few JSU supporters who spoke with the Democratic nominee shared that Presley’s personal background struck a chord with them. Throughout his campaign, Presley has openly discussed his upbringing with a single mother and financial struggles. These voters expressed their hope that Presley will implement policies that will positively impact all Mississippi residents.
According to Stanley Johnson, the new guy is from a small town and has a similar upbringing as him. Johnson has researched him and believes that he will stick to his promises.
Presley made a promise to his fans that if he wins the election for governor in just three weeks, he will use his new position to advocate for more state funding for Jackson State University and other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Mississippi.
On Saturday, the Democrat drew attention to JSU’s football stadium and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which happens to be the only academic research hospital in the state. He expressed his desire for a capital city where both these institutions work together to help Jackson thrive.
Presley believes that the city of Jackson has the potential to benefit from two major economic engines, both of which are publicly owned institutions. He suggests that the state should invest in these institutions to promote economic development in the city. According to Presley, this is the right step to take to uplift the city’s economy.
During Presley’s visit to the game, many people expressed their concerns about the lack of support for historically Black colleges, including the university, by current state leaders who happen to be white Republicans. This sentiment was shared widely among attendees, highlighting the ongoing issue of equitable treatment and resources for Black colleges.
According to Jeff Payne, he doesn’t recall any statewide candidates making an appearance at JSU games in the past years. He further added that he’s hoping that Presley’s visit won’t be a mere photo opportunity and that it would lead to something more significant. Payne expressed his excitement about capturing a picture with Presley during his visit.
According to Payne, her search for someone who is passionate about supporting HBCUs in Mississippi has led her to believe that Brandon is the ideal candidate for the role. “I’m seeking change in our state, and it’s important to me that we have someone who truly cares about these institutions,” she stated.