This Labor Day weekend, Miami’s premier Historically Black College and University (HBCU) hosted its annual Orange Blossom Classic football game, pitting Florida A&M University Rattlers against the Deion Sanders-coached Jackson State University Tigers. The historical event dates back to 1933 and serves as an opportunity to highlight the university’s unique culture in the majority Black city of Miami Gardens.
Not only was the event an epic football match-up, but it also featured a variety of festivities off the field made possible by its sponsor Denny’s. From custom roll-a-ball racing featuring animated breakfast item score markers to virtual reality pods featuring the brand’s logo, the fan zone included a variety of experiential activities. Not only did these custom games allow Denny’s to engage with fans on a deeper level, but they also highlighted the restaurant chain’s Hungry for Education program, a scholarship that aims to end childhood hunger, promote education and bring communities together. Since its inception in 2011, the program has provided more than $1.5 million to elementary, high school and college students across the country.
Denny’s Corporation is the franchisor and operator of one of America’s largest franchised full-service restaurant chains, based on the number of restaurants. As of June 29, 2022, Denny’s had 1,631 franchised, licensed, and company restaurants around the world including 154 restaurants in Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand, Honduras, the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica, Guam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom.
In an effort to help fight childhood hunger and promote education, Denny’s launched the Hungry for Education™ Scholarship program in 2011, and has since awarded more than $1.5 million in combined scholarships to elementary, high school and college students across the country. Annually in September, Denny’s identifies strategic partners to award scholarships to students that submit essays on how Denny’s can help bring communities together, and one student is selected by Denny’s to have their idea be put into action in their community.
The Orange Blossom Classic is an annual college football game held between 1933 and 1978, and again from 2021– present. In its first incarnation, it featured Florida A&M and another historically black school in an unofficial de facto championship game. It was seen as a mythical “Black National Championship” game. For example, the December 5, 1942, Afro American newspaper refers to the 1942 game as a national title game, as does at least one source for the 1945 game.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. Most of these institutions were founded in the years after the American Civil War and are concentrated in the Southern United States. During the period of segregation prior to the Civil Rights Act, the great majority of institutions of higher education served predominantly white students, and disqualified or limited black American enrollment. For a century after the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of Black people. HBCUs were established to provide more opportunities to African Americans and are largely responsible for establishing and expanding the African-American middle class.