Wayne Messam and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden hugged after the Seminoles defeated the University of Miami in 1996. Messam played wide receiver at FSU.
Photo: Phil Coale, Tallahassee Democrat via Associated Press
Photo: Phil Coale, Tallahassee Democrat via Associated Press

Who is Wayne Messam, the Florida mayor running for president?

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An avid runner, the 44-year-old mayor of Miramar opened his two-minute biographical video announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president with a wide-angle shot of Messam running on a road near a cane field, the Miami Herald reported.

Messam, the first black mayor of Miramar who has led Florida’s 13th-largest city since 2015, is one of several mayors or former mayors in the race for the 2020 nomination. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, is running for president, along with former mayors Julian Castro (San Antonio) and Cory Booker (Newark, New Jersey), according to CNN.

>> Florida mayor Wayne Messam announces 2020 bid for presidency

He said he picked Thursday to release the video because it is the anniversary of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final march, when he demonstrated with sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, before his assassination, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Messam is the son of Jamaican immigrants and his father was a contract sugar cane cutter, the newspaper reported.

Messam was born in Pahokee and grew up in South Bay, two cities located on the northern fringe of the Florida Everglades near Lake Okeechobee, the newspaper reported.

Messam played wide receiver for Florida State University’s football team from 1993 to 1996. He played under legendary coach Bobby Bowden and averaged 12.8 yards per catch while catching four touchdown passes -- three during his senior season. He was a member of the Seminoles’ first national championship team as a freshman in 1993. He started 12 games during the 1995 and 1996 seasons and was FSU’s 1996 homecoming chief, WPLG reported. 

Messam also was elected vice-president of the student body as a senior, the television station reported.

Messam served as 2018 president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

As Miramar’s mayor, Messam advocated a gun-free zone in the city’s new amphitheater, challenging a law backed by the National Rifle Association, the Sun-Sentinel reported. He has touted his city as a safe zone for undocumented immigrants and has opposed oil drilling in the Everglades. He also supports action to fight climate change, the newspaper reported.

Messam was one of the earliest South Florida supporters of Andrew Gillum’s failed 2018 gubernatorial campaign and stumped for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Messam calls his story “the epitome of the American dream.”

“The promise of America belongs to all of us,” Messam says in his video. “That’s why I’m going to be running for president.”

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