Pensacola, Florida became ground zero for local, state, and national political and civil rights organizations with leadership meetings, membership drives, and community forums held during the weekend of September 13th – 15th. Pensacola’s Movement for Change and Blacks in Government held their membership drives; The Florida Democratic Black Caucus held a community forum on recent alleged abuses of the use of force and racial profiling by the Escambia County Sheriff Department; The National Movement for Civil & Human Rights held a national board of directors’ meeting and their Great Warriors Banquet. Members of all the organizations were seen at each other’s event during the weekend fellowshipping, discussing issues, brainstorming strategies, and conferring on future collaborations.
Movement for Change and Blacks in Government ended a week of recruiting new members and reclaiming old ones by holding a radio outreach program on the local Black owned radio station WRNE with a fish fry on Saturday. The Florida Democratic Black Caucus held a community forum called, “The Panhandle Speaks” as the first stop along their statewide ‘Florida Speaks Tour” to allow residents of northwest Florida to publicly address and submit documentation on violations of their civil liberties, issues of racial profiling, continued problems created by the school to prison pipeline, and other challenges to their quality of life. The National Movement for Civil & Human Rights held its board of directors meeting discussing national, state, and local events that is of interest to their mission.
At the Panhandle Speaks event held at Bethel AME Church, the Black Caucus presented an official incident form for persons who wanted to come forward and report problems with local law enforcement. Community volunteers assisted residents in filling out the incident reports and surveys for the Black Caucus data base showing their commitment to partnering with the statewide organization. In fact, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Florida Black Caucus of Elected Officials, and the Dream Defenders, whose members are students and young adults, all contributed to the success of the first stop on the statewide tour.
The National Movement for Civil & Human Rights held their Great Warriors Banquet and all of their meetings at Englewood Missionary Baptist Church. At the Saturday evening banquet awards were presented by the President H. K. Matthews and the Board Chair, Dr. Ruby Reese Moon to:
- Angelo Callins as the first African American Basketball Varsity Player at Pensacola High School,
- David L. White for his Civil Rights Achievements received by his daughter Joyce Johnson,
- Zoya Phillips for her Pensacola and Northwest Florida Humanitarian Work and Contributions
- James and Mary Staton for their Integrating of Naval Air Station Housing in the 1960’s
- Deacon Fred Young for his Achievements in Music and Song
- Ellison Bennett for his contributions as 2013 National Conference Coordinator
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