Bethune-Cookman Marching Wildcats Subject of Netflix Docu-series “Marching Orders”

Wildcats Marching Orders
Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats are the subject of a 12-episode docu-series on Netflix.

“Marching Orders,” an original unscripted series, takes viewers inside the Marching Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The band’s rich history includes being showcased at major sports events from the Super Bowl to NFL games and was featured in the popular film “Drumline” starring Nick Cannon and Zoe Saldana. This 12-episode series, Marching Orders, premiered on Friday, August 3 on Netflix and was produced by Stage 13/Gigantic Productions.

For students, becoming a member of the Marching Wildcats will be one of their most significant life achievements. The legacy, history, and honor of earning a spot in the 300-member plus band is a pivotal moment that is often rooted in the students’ own familial histories. Expectations run high for the new generation of Marching Wildcats.

It’s difficult to convey just how important marching bands have become in the culture and climate of HBCUs unless one has lived it as an undergraduate student. While many rival institutions will take issue with the Marching Wildcats being touted as the nation’s best, that is par for the course. Let the trash-talking continue.

“Nobody works as hard as we do,” says Band Director Donovan Wells, in the series opener. “Nobody pays attention to the details as much as we do.”



Va-va signature with butterflies



Nelson secures federal funding for Floridians

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson


Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) announced that the $1.3 trillion spending package Congress unveiled last night includes funding for several projects and programs important to Floridians including: increased spending  to fight the opioid epidemic, additional funding for citrus greening research and significant funding for democracy programs in both Venezuela and Cuba, as well as provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence. 

Funding for the following Florida projects and programs sought by Nelson have been included in the federal spending package: 

·         $3.3 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and mental health crises. An estimated 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder. In Florida alone, more than 5,200 people have died from an opioid-related event in 2016 – a 35 percent increase from 2015. Nelson requested additional funding for treatment, prevention and research. 

·         $67.47 million in total funding for citrus greening research and the Citrus Health Research Program. As citrus greening has hurt growers across Florida, Nelson has advocated for increased funding to study and address the problem to help the state’s citrus industry. 

·         $895 million for Kennedy Space Center to modernize launch facilities, more than doubling what the center received last year.  Nelson requested the increased funding to bolster work on launch and processing infrastructure needed for NASA’s initiative to explore deep space. 

·         $121 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet.  Nelson has been pushing for a replacement since 2015. The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two years when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded during hurricane season. 

·         $76.5 million in total funding to protect and restore the Everglades. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing additional funding for Everglades restoration. 

·         $82 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing for additional funding for dike repairs. 

·         $279.6 million, a 14-percent increase, in funding to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The four historically black colleges and universities in Florida—Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville – prepare over 16,000 students for careers in STEM, aviation, law, nursing and other fields. 

·         $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants.  Positive train control technology will help prevent deadly crashes on our railroads. It’s critically important for those railroads that carry passengers, like Sunrail and Tri-Rail.  Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, pressed for the funding to help passenger railroads meet a federal deadline to install the lifesaving technology.  

·         $100 million for research and development program for automated vehicles. The SunTrax facility at Florida Polytechnic University is a qualified proving ground and will have the opportunity to benefit from the program. 

·         Restored and increased funds to $35 million for democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba. Nelson requested Congress “redouble, not eliminate support for democracy and human rights” in Venezuela. The democracy programs support civil society organizations and promote human rights. 

·         Included $60 million for the Nonprofits Security Grant Program. The program helps certain non-profits harden their facilities against attack, such as organization like the Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Orlando and Miami and elsewhere. Nelson requested this funding after JCCs across Florida received a series of telephone bomb threats. 

·         Increased funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program to $5 million. Nelson requested $5 million in funding to provide long-term support and services for Holocaust survivors. 


The spending package included several provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence in Florida and across the country, including: 

·         Fix NICS Act. Nelson cosponsored this bipartisan bill, which requires federal agencies and states to develop implementation plans to upload to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) all information prohibiting a person from purchasing a firearm, rewards states who comply with these plans through federal grant preferences, and reauthorizes and improves programs that help states share information on criminal records with NICS, among other things. 

·         STOP School Violence Act. Nelson co-sponsored this bipartisan bill that would allow schools to access federal funds to invest in programs, training and technology to keep students safe. 

·         CDC Gun Violence Research. The spending package included language to clarify that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can conduct research on gun violence.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson Awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree by Bethune-Cookman University

Rep. Wilson hooded at BCU Graduation

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Congresswoman S. Wilson (FL-24), was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) for her contributions to society and commitment to service at the BCU fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, December 10, 2016, in the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center in Daytona Beach.  The degree was presented by BCU President Dr. Edison O. Jackson, and Board of Trustees Chairperson Dr. Joe Petrock.

Wilson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Fisk University, a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Miami, and an Honorary Doctorate degree from Florida Memorial University.




April 3, 2015- Daytona Beach, Florida - The Daytona Beach Police Department responded to an early morning shooting in the 300 block of Henry Butts Street. The off-campus incident did result in four B-CU students being injured and taken to the hospital. The students are currently recovering and all parents have been notified. While this unfortunate occurrence did take place off campus, B-CU administrators and the public safety department are proactively involved with this investigation. President Jackson is deeply concerned with the violence within the surrounding communities and will take the necessary steps to quickly address the challenges that pose threats to the safety of the campus and students. "We are proud to be a part of this community. Essentially, it is an extension of our campus. We have a long and rich connection and we want to work together to find healthy alternatives for both our campus and the community," says President Edison O. Jackson.

President Jackson and his leadership are continuously strengthening their policies and procedures and have complete confidence in their public safety department to keep their campus and students safe and secure. In addition, the president is looking into creating more opportunities to keep students involved with events and recreational activities on campus. The university is committed to increasing its efforts to eradicate violence and negative influences on its campus and within the community. President Jackson plans to meet with key influencers and policy makers to explore the available resources and to discuss future improvement plans.

Inaugural Florida Classic HBCU Summit Sun. 11/23



A historic and important conversation is scheduled for the weekend of The Florida Classic 2014 in Orlando, FL. The presidents of the four HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in Florida are the featured panelists for a discussion at the inaugural State of the Florida Black Colleges and Universities Summit.
In an effort to further its mission of supporting HBCUs, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) has agreed to sponsor the summit. TMCF is a nonprofit organization that helps nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include publicly-supported HBCUs, medical schools, and law schools.

The summit is a public forum that brings together the presidents of Florida’s four HBCUs to discuss strategies for improving retention and graduation. This inaugural conversation will be held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando on Sunday, November 23rd at 10:30 a.m., during the weekend of the Florida Blue Florida Classic 2014.

Since its inception, TMCF has raised over $200 million for programmatic support, capacity building support, and scholarships for its member-schools and the students matriculating on those campuses. A partnership with the Florida HBCU summit gives TMCF an opportunity to better serve the HBCU community and advance efforts that improve educational outcomes.

TMCF joins the Tom Joyner Foundation, Florida A&M University, Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, and Florida Memorial University in supporting this landmark event. The current presidents of the four institutions are - Dr. Elmira Mangum - Florida A&M; Dr. Edison O. Jackson - Bethune-Cookman; Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis - Florida Memorial; Nathaniel Glover - Edward Waters.

Education legend Dr. Harold E. Guinyard succumbs

Dr. Harold E. "Hal" Guinyard
Dr. Harold E. "Hal" Guinyard

Dr. Harold E. "Hal" Guinyard passed away on Thursday, May 1, 2014. He will be remembered for the number of people he helped including students and adults. He began his career with Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 1957. Early in his career he taught fourth grade at Douglas Elementary School, and physics, chemistry, and biology at North Dade Junior-Senior High School. He proudly served as assistant principal at Miami Norland (1968-69) and principal at both Miami Northwestern (1969-73) and Miami Central High Schools (1978-83).  He also served as a region administrator until his retirement in 1995. 
A proud alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University, was a devoted member of the Baha'i Faith, and a loyal member of the 100 Black Men of South Florida, Rotary Club of Hialeah/Miami Springs, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Visitation and funeral services will be held at New Birth Baptist Church, 2300 NW 135th Street in Miami.  Visitation: Friday, May 9, 2014 from 6pm to 8pm.  Funeral Service: Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 11am.  Burial will be held at Hollywood Memorial Gardens North Cemetery. Royal Funeral Home will be direct the funeral.  Their address is 17475 NW 27th Avenue, Miami 33056, 
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Dr. Harold Guinyard's name to:  
Bethune-Cookman University
Institutional Advancement
640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114-3099
100 Black Men of South Florida, Inc. 
c/o Steven Henriquez, Treasurer
5825 Sunset Drive #201
South Miami, FL 33143
Safe Space 
c/o Hialeah/Miami Springs Rotary
P.O. Box 1635
Hialeah, FL 33011-1635


FAMU President James Ammons Resigns

Dr. James Ammons
Yesterday was emotional for those of us who love Florida A&M University. It came as no surprise that FAMU Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion’s parents filed a lawsuit against the University for their son’s death because of a hazing ritual last November after the Florida Classic football game against Bethune-Cookman in Orlando. The Champions have been vigilant about ending hazing at FAMU and “cleaning house” at the University from top to bottom. Former Marching 100 band director Dr. Julian White retired two months ago and now Dr. Ammons stepped down, perhaps that will provide some level of satisfaction to the Champions and allow FAMU to move forward.

Recent repeated media publication of recommendations for suspension of the Marching 100 from performing in last year’s Florida Classic that were ignored was very damaging to Dr. Ammons and FAMU. Add to that, news about the low graduation rate at the University, controversy about financial problems while Ammons headed North Carolina Central University and threats of investigation by a legislative panel are just some of the challenges Ammons was faced with. It’s also important to keep in mind that the report on the FDLE investigation of University finances and band operations has yet to be made public.  

It goes without saying that FAMU’s challenges will not end because of the resignation of Dr. Ammons. The FAMU Board of Trustees will meet next Monday, July 16, 2012 at 9 a.m. to address next steps as the University moves forward with finding Dr. Ammons’ successor. The call-in number is 1-800-309-9169 and the conference ID number is 10542700.

Dr. Ammons will remain on staff as a tenured professor; his resignation is effective October 11. Stay tuned. 


UM wins 45-14 in football matchup with BCU

With a rather sparse crowd at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens and the audience watching on ESPNU, the University of Miami Hurricanes beat the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats 45-14. Sure, the score appears to have been a butt-whipping but it does not depict the play of both teams during the game.

There was an expectation that UM would totally dominate and decimate BCU but that was not the case. Cookman started out with a lot of energy and actually owned the game during the first quarter. The Canes slowly gained momentum and came up with the win. It was an ugly win but a win nonetheless.

As a die-hard Rattler, I must give Bethune credit for representing the MEAC well. The FAMU-BCU trash-talking will definitely advance to another level until the Florida Classic on November 19 in Orlando. Stay tuned.

Countdown to Florida Classic 2010 [VIDEO]

It’s about that time again. The weekend before Thanksgiving is Florida Classic Weekend and fans of in-state rivals Florida A&M Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will gather in Orlando for the largest celebration of black college football in the world. Bragging rights for the football game victory as well as half-time between the marching bands began months ago. There is no rivalry like that between Bethune and FAMU --- not even the rivalry between Florida and FSU compares.


This year the Wildcats are expected to win the football game since they have been beating up on other teams really bad this year. On the other hand the Rattlers have a decent record but have squeaked by in several victories. Regardless of what happens on the field, the Orlando area will benefit from the millions that will be spent by the fans. As usual there are a number of official Florida Classic events and a slew of unofficial events that the two universities will not see a penny of revenue from.

Related Link: The Official Site of the Florida Classic