What Jacksonville Black voters want

The top 3 issues that would totally win over Duval County Black voters.

“Achieving equity—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential—is the moral imperative, a potent antidote to inequality, and the superior growth model.” – PolicyLink

With the energy of the 2018 mid-term elections in the rear view mirror, it’s time for Duval County local elections to take center stage. Qualifications are over, and the election hype is once again underway.

In Jacksonville that means all constitutional offices. Leading the way, is the race for the Office of the Mayor. Four candidates are lined up and ready to go, and with about six weeks left before election day all eyes are focused on issues, right?


Most of the noise in the system so far has come from incumbent Mayor Lenny Curry telling us why we shouldn’t vote for arch rival Anna Broche. And while it may still be considered a little early for voters to hear through the noise, it’s worth spelling out local African American issues right now.

Let’s be clear that Jacksonville’s African American community has more to lose and less to gain from this year’s election. Given the fact that there are no declared candidates representing by Democrats, Blacks have no traditional champion for base issues and concerns. Nevertheless, African Americans must choose someone who will advocate for policies most important to them.

Jacksonville has neglected its Black community long before these 2019 elections. Yet, people get surprised when non-status quo recommendations are made. So let’s go ahead and be bold here and demand candidates address what we really want.

First on the list is a commitment to growth and development of African American-owned businesses. Not that watered down, “I support small business growth” stuff. I’m talking about a concentrated effort to put Black business owners on the map. Candidates should know and care about how Black-owned businesses are faring alongside Jacksonville’s booming economy and address the gap. Serous candidates should also be unflinching with incentivizing large and medium-sized Black owned companies to migrate to Jacksonville. I mean, Jacksonville has been pretty good at doing it for everyone else.

Next we know political rhetoric suggests that all winning roads go through public safety. What this really means is that “voters” need to feel safe as they move freely about their lives. This translates into if you don’t vote, you don’t matter. As a result, a lot of good ideas have been neglected because they didn’t come from the right people. Fact is the public safety needs of the Black community are a little different.

Everyone deserves to live in a safe community, whether they vote or not. Candidates should focus on public safety policies that ignite trust, not just improved police response times. Prevention is the core ingredient to everyone feeling safe. A vibrant and safe community means investing in people, not the latest law enforcement tactics.

I can remember as a young boy growing up in the Durkeeville area of Jacksonville. My friends and I could bounce from one recreational center to the next. We could play sports for our schools or neighborhood teams. We played at parks and gyms. We made stuff because art was a big part of our world, and there were special movie showings at the theaters for active kids like us. Everybody had something for us to do. In doing so, we learned how to dream about our futures. And yes, most of it was publicly funded. That’s because city leaders saw the benefit in investing in people. Even Black people.

In other words, increase funding for targeted prevention programming in the Black community.

And that brings us to my final recommendation for those looking to secure Black votes. While Jacksonville claims to be bold, it refuses to do anything that would let the world know its population is 30 percent African-American. It’s time to tell everyone that Jacksonville isn’t short for “Andrew Jackson-ville.” Yeah, we have an NFL team but so do 31 other cities. It’s time to stage an event that would showcase the pride and culture of Jacksonville’s African American community.

Here’s how.

Jacksonville should invest in and host an HBCU football classic. Bring back Florida A&M University or Bethune-Cookman University and make it a week-long festival atmosphere for the entire city to enjoy (Just like they make us do for the TaxSlayer Bowl). It’s been about 18 years since FAMU or BCU played in the River City. It’s time that drought came to an end. Birmingham, Baltimore, Atlanta and Tampa make it their business to use HBCUs as a drawing card to their cities. That’s because it’s good for the community and makes economic sense. So why not Jacksonville? After all, there is a stadium on the edge of downtown where the hometown NFL team only plays 9 games a year. Additionally, Black taxpayers help to support everything that goes on down there, and deserve to use as well. And note, the candidate who makes this promise will win Black voters. My vote for sure.

It would take a lot for any politician to speak directly to Black voters in a language specific to the needs of a community long neglected. However, if you are looking to get out front on what Black voters want, this is your way forward: Black owned business growth; investing in people; and finance Black entertainment, culture and traditions.

See you at the polls.

Visit blackoffee.com, email speaktous@8wgroup.com, and follow me on twitter @CharlesLGriggs


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