By: Wesley Martin
Last Friday morning, the chairman of the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce, George Hawthorne, resigned from his post after months of speculation regarding his effectiveness.
“Since I have clearly become a source of distraction from the Chamber’s most important mission … I am going to do what a ‘real’ leader should,” Hawthorne said in his statement. “I am going to remove myself as a source of distraction from the Chamber’s mission and I hereby resign as Chairman and a member of the GCAACC.”
Hawthorne also stated that though he believes his deeds were in the best interests of the Chamber, due to such speculation, his current involvement in the Chamber is more of an obstruction than an asset.
“In recent days, it has become clearly apparent to me that I have become the ‘focus’ of controversy and a target for individuals who have attempted to take the ‘focus’ from the Chamber’s mission of economic development, economic parity and ‘inclusion’ for minority businesses,” Hawthorne said. “There have been misguided assaults upon some the most important ‘fibers of my being’ … my credibility and my integrity.”
Admiral LeRoy, founder and former publisher of Out Front magazine says he hopes the Chamber moves in a positive direction.
“I can’t say I am able to pinpoint where [the Chamber] is going, I would like to see it go in a direction that will be very beneficial to the black community, first and foremost, and certainly to the black business community which is in need of a form leadership that I think the [Chamber] can provide,” LeRoy said.
LeRoy also says many African-Americans lack entrepreneurial acumen but don’t know it. He said that had he had more knowledge in the past, he would be more successful today.
“I think a chamber can have programs that can go across the board, in terms of helping black businesses settle in before they get in too deep [and to assist them] on what they really need to be involved in prior to opening up a business,” LeRoy added.
John Jerralds, Pensacola City Councilman (District 5), says many black business owners have spoken to him about business opportunities, but don’t know where to go for help.
”We have a responsibility as a race to meet our own need; to define our own destiny, ” Jerralds said.
According to Jerralds, the next Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce meeting will be held at City Hall next week Thursday, May 31, at 5 p.m.