Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard continued his courtship of Pensacola’s Black political leadership with a swift and very effective visit on Saturday, April 19th! This was his second trip in recent months that continues to link the Northwest Florida African-American community to the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators and the political decision-making taking place in Tallahassee. The senator was accompanied by Ciara Taylor, the Political Director of the Dream Defenders, and Jabari Paul of the faith-based civic engagement organization, PICO. Bullard’s visit follows behind representatives of the Coalition for Justice of Northwest Florida traveling to the Capital to be in attendance at the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators 2014 Annual Legislative Summit. This collaboration is a continuing emergence of a purposeful effort by the Coalition for Justice to raise the voice of the local Black and minority community in local and state political expression.
The Pensacola engagement began with a stop at the production studios of Charles Thornton, President and Founder of The Thornton Review, a political awareness internet communications media organization. Senator Bullard was interviewed on Thornton’s Community Awareness program broadcasted over the internet with Jerry McIntosh of the political issue research company, The McIntosh Principle. The interview focused on Bullard’s involvement with education issues such as lowering the cost of student tuition, legislative intervention on the “School to Prison Pipeline” which severely impacts Black and minority students, amending of “Stand Your Ground” laws, and his leading the effort of the “Fathers Education Days” from May 12th to the 16th to raise the involvement of fathers in their children’s school and educational experience.
The Coalition for Justice is led by Jeri Bell of the Northwest Florida Federation of Labor with Jerry McIntosh of Movement for Change serving as the spokesperson for the group. The labor movement has increased its involvement in local Black and minority issues as Aaron Wazlavek, an AFL-CIO organizer, invited the Senator to Pensacola to speak at the downtown Pensacola Main Library and the viewing of the Department of Labor’s former secretary Robert Reich’s film “Inequality for All” on the income inequality. Wazlavek stated, “I reached out to Senator Bullard and asked if he would be interested in leading the discussion a few weeks ago on the issue of income disparities and other community challenges following the viewing on the film, and he accepted our invitation”.
Following the viewing of the film Senator Bullard led a discussion on local social, economic, and political disparities. Bullard displayed his particular skill of facilitating a focus on Pensacola and Northwest Florida issues, even though he serves as the senator from Miami-Dade County. Wazlavek, the regional AFL-CIO organizer shared further that, “This wasn’t so much an AFL-CIO thing as it was a community outreach effort. Ostensibly, the screening was organized by Awake Escambia. Right now, that’s a nuanced kind of situation with Awake Escambia and the Council, as we’re trying to build up the unity with the local progressive groups by bringing them all to the proverbial table so we can stay better engaged.
Dwight Bullard was born February 4, 1977 and serves as a Democratic member of the Florida State Senate. Since 2012, he represents the 39th District, which includes all of Hendry and Monroe Counties and parts of Collier and Miami-Dade Counties. In 2008, when his father did not seek another term from the 118th District in the House, Bullard ran to succeed his father; he emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic primary. He won the general election uncontested, but in 2010, he was challenged in the primary by Kionne L. McGhee, and won by less than 400 votes. He won the general election in a landslide against his Republican opponent, Charlie Lopez.