Will a Florida A&M or Florida State grad be tapped as Joe Biden's VP?
Could a Rattler or a Seminole land on the Democratic ticket for the White House? Based on published reports relying on insiders within the Joe Biden campaign, it's a possibility.
This week, news reports suggest both Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and U.S. Rep. Val Demings are on Biden’s short list for vice president.
Demings, 63, earned a bachelor's degree of science in criminology in August 1979 from Florida State University. She was enrolled from winter 1976 through summer 1979.
In 1996, she earned a master’s degree in public administration from Webster University-Orlando. She has served in Congress since 2017, representing Florida’s 10th district.
Bottoms, 50, entered Florida A&M University in 1987 and graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1991. She later earned a law degree from Georgia State University College of Law.
She was elected Atlanta’s 60th mayor in 2017. Prior to her election, she practiced law, served as a part-time magistrate judge and served as an Atlanta City Council member, representing part of Southwest Atlanta.
"As a graduate of Florida A&M University, I am the first Atlanta mayor who is an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) graduate who did not attend Morehouse (College) or Howard (University)," she said during her inaugural address.
She returned to FAMU as keynote speaker for the fall 2018 homecoming convocation and has appeared with FAMU President Larry Robinson during a recruitment visit in her city.
Demings was honored a few years ago by the FSU National Black Alumni, Inc. with its Outstanding Alumni Award.
A Washington Post profile published in January tells of how Demings, then Valdez Venita Butler, “arrived at Florida State University in 1976 with $50 and no clear plan for how to pay that semester’s tuition.”
Having come from an economically poor, two-parent home with seven children in Jacksonville, she was the first in her immediate family to attend college. She worked at McDonald’s to help pay for her education.
Cassandra D. Jenkins, a national board member of the FSU National Black Alumni, Inc. was a classmate of Demings’s, as both studied in the College of Criminology.
The women knew each other well and later became closer friends after graduation as both entered careers in criminal justice and have worked together on work-related projects.
“She was conscientious, focused and willing to help serve others,” Jenkins said of her time with Demings at FSU. “I have a lot of respect for Congresswoman Demings.”
Jenkins said she’s “not surprised at all” that Demings is being considered by the Biden campaign: "She is the ultimate public servant, with a reputation for developing comprehensive and innovative approaches to addressing community concerns."
Jenkins added: “She has the skills to see issues from different perspectives and she has the ability to relate to people on a lot of different levels, professionally as well as in the community.”
Upon graduating from FSU, Demings took a job in social work and later was recruited to become a police officer in Orlando, where she rose through the ranks to Orlando’s first female chief of police in 2007.
She’s married to Jerry L. Demings, a former Orlando police chief and once sheriff of Orange County, who was sworn in in December 2018 as the first black mayor of Orange County. Their three sons attended Florida A&M University.
Bottoms, whose family stretches five generations in Georgia, often has been in the national spotlight addressing social and economic issues. She was named Georgia Trend’s 2020 Georgian of the Year.
She openly challenged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s plans on reopening the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing its impact on the black population, and she has spoken out about the injustice in George Floyd's death.
Bottoms, who is credited with restoring trust in Atlanta city government, was one of first major city mayors to endorse Biden’s candidacy. She’s made national appearances with him across states in the south.
She’s married to Derek W. Bottoms, who also is an attorney, and they have four children.
And both Demings and Bottoms are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Biden has said he plans to name his running mate by August.