Part One of a Three-Part Series
Last Thursday and Friday, The Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys convened at City Hall. Upon the invite of Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds, the two-day event began with a business meeting in which council members voted on the best way to effectively attack the situation in Pensacola.
The Council’s Chairman Eddy Regnier noted, looking across the state of Florida, African-American males have higher incarceration rates than any other group, are highly represented in the criminal justice system and are under-represented in employment; an observation made not just by those in the African-American community.
Speaking at Movement for Change’s last banquet in June, Alistair McKenzie, a Caucasian male asserted, “I wanted to tell you how There are more African-Americans under correctional control and jail, prison or probation – currently, than were ever held as slaves, prior to the Civil War in the United States.”
He continued, “…I wanted to tell you about the fact that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents, than a black child born during slavery. A main cause to the disintegration of the African-American family is due in large to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.”
According to the 2011 annual report released by The Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys: Of the 9,213,668 males living in the state of Florida, black males make up approximately, 15 percent of the population, yet account for 46 percent of the prison population.
“The work of the council is to investigate the disparity against black men and boys, “said Council Chairman, Eddy Regnier.
“It is our charge to investigate and research the disparities that black men and boys face throughout the state of Florida and then to bring that information to lawmakers and interested parties – partnering with community organizations and elected officials to create change, ” Regnier remarked.
Although Regnier mentioned the importance of involvement from other state agencies, the event was sparsely attended by city officials, most noticeably absent: Mayor Ashton Hayward and Super Intendant of Schools, Malcolm Thomas.
Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons who was in attendance to make a presentation on the council’s final day, said although he could not account for the absence of others, he was in agreement with Regnier .
“We find it important for the improved social status [of black men and boys] because it gives individuals options, it gives them a chance to reach their full potential and we believe…that this is such a monumental task, we think that not one entity can handle it on their own.”