Gillum’s Slap-Down Of DeSantis For Calling Him ‘Andrew’ Is Rooted In Jim Crow-Era Custom

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 20: Andrew Gillum

Jamarlin talks to Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee and leading Democratic candidate for Florida governor. They discuss the DNC taking the Black vote for granted, its silence on the killing of 60 Palestinian protestors, and whether big tech and Silicon Valley elites can be regulated at the state level.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum asked his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis to “put some respect” on his name after the former congressman kept referring to the Tallahassee mayor by his first name during candidate debates.

Gillum debated DeSantis Sunday on CNN and again on Wednesday at Broward College. On Thursday, Gillum addressed a crowd of students at historically Black Florida Memorial University as part of a South Florida campus tour.

A graduate of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Gillum made a point of saying he was a FAMU Rattler, evoking his alma mater while talking about his beef with DeSantis calling him Andrew, Miami Herald reported:

“I’m a sitting mayor and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew,” said Gillum. “I never would have reduced myself to referring to him in such familiar terms.

“I can tell you there was a little bit of Rattler in my ear. Just hissing at me to call him out,” he said. “But you know had the situation been reversed I never would have ever reduced myself to referring to him in such familiar terms.”

Gillum, who will be Florida’s first Black governor if elected, questioned DeSantis on stage in the Wednesday debate about his ties to white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Gillum was especially interested in DeSantis taking speaking engagements at racially charged far-right conferences and accepting campaign contributions from a donor who used a racial epithet in a tweet about former President Barack Obama, HuffPost reported.

“I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” Gillum said. That went viral.

Andrew Gillum
BOCA RATON – OCTOBER 25: Democratic Florida gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum arrives during a “Bring it home” bus tour rally held at the Florida Atlantic University’s Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium on October 25, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida Credit: MPI04 / MediaPunch /IPX
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Gillum and DeSantis just met for the first time at the CNN debate.

His message resonated at Florida Memorial, said Nadege Green, who covered the event for WLRN, member station for NPR in South Florida.

“This wasn’t just about political decorum, where it is the norm to address elected officials by their titles,” Green wrote. “It was deeper than that. Gillum, a Black man, was not afforded even the basic title of mister by his white opponent. History gives extra weight to what some describe as a not-so-subtle racial slight rooted in the Jim Crow-era custom of denying black men courtesy titles.”

Not acknowledging Gillum’s title “is to keep him, a Black man, in his place, in a coded way,” tweeted Michael Moss, an African-American professor of psychology at FMU.

“I recognize how people who have not had these experiences might not even see it,” Moss said. “Mayor Gillum is not just running as a person, he’s also running against the perception of his perceived place as a Black man.”

During the Jim Crow era, whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to Black people, such as Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma’am. Instead, Black people were called by their first names. Black people had to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names, according to AfricanAmerica.org.


About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on Moguldom.com for Nubai Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.