The Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (FBC-LEO) and Operation People for Peace in partnership with Magic Johnson Entertainment is hosting a dynamic community issues conference called the ACTION/TOGETHER 2014 FORUM here in Pensacola, Florida from Tuesday May 27th through Friday May 30th. The Black Caucus and People for Peace event organizers have scheduled federal and state officials along with leaders of national business and human rights organizations to participate as speakers and panelists during the week.
Tuesday evening the conference event featured a Pensacola waterfront welcome reception at the Fish House Deck at 600 Barracks St. The gathering was attended by elected officials and Black media from around the state of Florida. Local business owners, members of the African American Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood organization leadership, and Linda Moultrie Escambia School Board Chair were in attendance to meet and greet the visitors.
On Wednesday, Lonnie King, Jr. kicked off the morning session speaking of his relationship with Julian Bond in leading the Atlanta Student Movement during the 1960’s. The two co-chaired the student led Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR) with sit-ins as their attempt to integrate racially segregated establishments in Atlanta, Georgia shook up the city’s racial climate. The afternoon speakers included Andy Ingraham, CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, and Dr. E. Faye Williams, Chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. All three leaders brought their messages of organizing for economic, political, and civil rights to the Crown Plaza conference.
The FBC-LEO provides these programs and events to intensify the growth and influence of African Americans in the local and state political, legislative and public policy arenas. They state in their public relations material that they sponsor special events like the ACTION/TOGETHER 2014 FORUM in order to reach their community. The FBC-LEO was established in 1985 as a non-profit, public policy, research and educational institute. The organization creates a positive environment for disseminating, communicating and exchanging ideas and information among members to achieve more efficient and responsible local government administration within Florida’s communities.
The mission of the organization is dedicated to embracing elected officials, its members and stakeholders with the support, tools, training, technical assistance and advocacy that facilitate their growth, development and leadership capacity. The FBC-LEO advocates positions and programs that benefit municipal government. Further, the group provides a forum for elected officials to meet regularly to discuss and implement ideas to better their respective communities and to promote harmony and cooperation among its members and stakeholders.
On its website, Charles Smith, the caucus President articulates his vision, “These are exciting times in Florida! With our State’s changing demographics, we are poised to continue shaping the future of our Country. FBC-LEO represents all levels of government and a diverse combination of municipalities, towns and metropolitan cities that are all working through the issues, challenges and opportunities associated with these changes.” Some of the officers of the statewide Black Caucus are President Charles Smith, President, Commissioner of the City of Palmetto; David Archie, First Vice President, Mayor of City of Tarpon Springs; Lisa C. Davis, Second Vice President, Vice Mayor, City of Miami Gardens; Bruce Mount, Treasurer, Mayor of the Town of Eatonville; Assistant Treasurer Marilyn Davis-Sconions Councilwoman Town of Eatonville; and Hayward J. Benson, Jr., Past President, Commissioner City of Lauderhill.
The caucus President said in a letter to the public that, “To date we have confirmed over half of our invitees to this historical event. We want this group to look like America looks with national and community leaders, elected city, county, and state officials, and masses of underserved and disenfranchised people. Moreover, we welcome national franchise businesses, state-wide economic offices, statewide financial officers, colleges and universities, federal agencies, business owners, and community developers for AFH from all over America. This event will promote a bipartisan dialogue with selections from keynote speakers who equally represent Republicans and Democrats.
Operation People For Peace, Chairman Art Rocker, is coordinating the event for the FBC-LEO Board of Directors and has coordinated outreach to local and state officials from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and nationally. The caucus goes to great lengths to make certain that the organization is, “reaching across party lines to ensure that we effectively articulate our theme to all elected officials and community participants by producing a valuable and effective dialogue.”
Caucus President Charles Smith fervently
expressed his advocacy for increasing membership in all three levels of membership offered for dues-paying individuals as follows:
- Regular (Voting) Members – persons who hold the elected position of Mayor, City Council or Commission Member, or County Commissioner, or similar governmental position.
- Associate Members – persons who formerly held the elected position of Mayor, City Council or Commission Member, or County Commissioner, or similar governmental position.
- Supporting Members – individuals, corporations or private sector organizations that support FBC-LEO’s endeavors who have not held an elected or similar governmental position