via @Ossoff on twitter.com Jon Ossoff photographed next to the late Senator John Lewis.
By Zoë Huey, Staff Writer
Democrat Jon Ossoff is no stranger to politics. Running in 2017’s special election to represent Georgia’s sixth district, Ossoff has now set his sights on another congressional seat. This time, he is running against Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue for one of two Senate seats on Georgia’s ballot this November.
On Sept. 23, 2020, Ossoff sat down for an interview with The Maroon Tiger to discuss his new “Strengthen HBCUs” plan. A couple of points in the plan are emergency pandemic support from the federal government, tuition affordability, and better facilities and technology for HBCUs. Ossoff claims that prior to the release of his plan on Sept. 3, 2020, he had been a long-time supporter of HBCUs.
“When I worked for Congressman Hank Johnson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I worked in his office to strengthen support for HBCUs [and was] informed by a deep recognition of how important these institutions are,” Ossoff said.
Despite the relatively recent release of this plan, Ossoff insists that his commitment to HBCUs and Black communities has been a deep one. In addition to working under Congressman Johnson, Ossoff was also a mentee of the late Congressman John Lewis who had endorsed Ossoff ever since his run in the 2017 election.
Working alongside Congressmen Johnson and Lewis allowed Ossoff to get a taste of what it takes to serve in Congress. His congressional involvement makes him believe that the reason HBCUs have not gotten the governmental aid that they deserve is because of a lack of determination in Congress.
“[We] need to elect more political leaders who are deeply committed to supporting HBCUs and strengthening them. It’s a question of political will. It’s a question of priorities.”
Ossoff declares that he will be a “champion” for HBCUs and stand up for them in a way that many in Congress have yet to do. If elected, his plan is to put political differences aside and work with his Republican colleagues to strengthen HBCUs.
“I’ll work across the aisle to get it done and build support to get it done. The issue is not that it can’t be done. The issue is that folks aren’t trying hard enough because it’s not a high enough priority.”
However, Ossoff’s opponent Sen. Perdue seems to have already done work to help HBCUs. He signed off on a letter sent on June 16, 2020, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Thune. In it, Sen. Perdue and his colleagues mention wanting additional funding and better technological infrastructure for HBCUs, as well as how they helped to pass the HBCU Partners Act and the Future Act. In response, Ossoff expressed gratitude for his challenger’s intentions but insists that more needs to be done.
“I’m glad that there is some will in Congress already to support HBCUs. But what’s really needed is a significant commitment.”
Despite his efforts to aid HBCUs, Sen. Perdue is also a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who “uses fear, division, and racism as political tactics,” according to Ossoff.
“I think that David Perdue puts himself, his donors, his political party, and the president ahead of the people he serves… We need leaders who appeal to our better angels, who bring us together, and who seek justice and equality for all communities in this country. That’s not what David Perdue and Donald Trump are about.” said Ossoff
Will Ossoff’s plan gain enough appeal to win over Georgian HBCU students and grads, or will it be overshadowed by Sen. Perdue’s experience? It will be up to Georgians to decide this November.
Link to watch the full interview: