More than a game: Students, fans prepare for this weekend’s Florida Classic

ORLANDO, Fla. — The nation’s largest football game between two Historically Black College/University schools will take place in Orlando this weekend.


The Florida Classic is the ultimate rivalry between the Florida A&M University Rattlers and the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats.

Florida Citrus Sports estimates the annual game pours nearly 30 million dollars into Central Florida.

But it’s more than that for students.

Channel 9 spent the day with the Wildcats.

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Eternity Bradshaw, student body vice president at Bethune-Cookman, said being on the campus gives her a sense of history and pride.

It’s a pride that starts with the only African American woman to found an HBCU.

“When you think about what Mary McLeod Bethune accomplished back in 1904, starting this institution with only $1.50, a senator’s pocket, and a vision and faith,” said Anthony Jones, the vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Experience at Bethune-Cookman.

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The school started with five girls and Bethune’s son.

Two years later, 250 students filled the seats, and now 3,000 filled the campus.

Saturday’s game goes beyond the showmanship against the marching 100 and what happens on the field.

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Students receive thousands of dollars in scholarships, and the weekend helps support five historically underserved communities.

It’s also a celebration of Black culture from the highest hill to Orlando and joining a family legacy with over 100 existing HBCUs.

“It doesn’t matter if your family or not,” she said. “You are our family for that day.”

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