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    Jesse Jackson Calls Capitol Sit-In “The Selma of Our Time.” Scott Calls It an “Insult” to Floridians.

    posted Aug 4, 2013, 11:06 AM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated Aug 4, 2013, 11:07 AM ]

    | July 31, 2013

    Jesse Jackson visiting the Dream Defenders at Tallahassee's Capitol early today. (Facebook)

    Jesse Jackson visiting the Dream Defenders at Tallahassee’s Capitol early today. (Facebook)

    Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican leaders slammed the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday after the civil-rights veteran called a sit-in protest at Scott’s office “the Selma of our time” while implicitly comparing the state to South Africa and Scott to George Wallace.

    In a statement issued by his office, Scott took Jackson to task for the Selma comments made Tuesday and an earlier reported comment labeling Florida an “apartheid state.”

    “Jesse Jackson owes every Floridian an apology for his reckless and divisive comments,” Scott said. “It is unfortunate that he would come to Florida to insult Floridians and divide our state at a time when we are striving for unity and healing.”

    Appearing on the Rick Sanchez Radio Show a few hours later, Jackson dismissed the call for him to apologize as “absurd.”

    Jackson also drew scorn from some Republicans for apparently comparing Scott to Wallace, an infamous, segregationist governor of Alabama, during remarks Tuesday.

    Jackson spoke ahead of an overnight visit with the Dream Defenders, a group that has staged a sit-in at Scott’s office to demand a special legislative session to consider changes to the state’s self-defense laws, initiatives to end racial profiling and an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools.

    “We’ve seen Southern governors before have to change their minds,” Jackson said when asked about Scott’s insistence that he wouldn’t call a special session. Jackson mentioned Wallace as an example of someone who had to change his mind.

    That drew the ire of other Republicans.

    “With Jesse Jackson having a history of making offensive remarks, like calling New York City ‘Hymietown,’ it’s surprising to see that Democrats are not denouncing Jackson for what he said about Florida and Governor Rick Scott,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said in a statement. “Jesse Jackson’s attacks are offensive, inappropriate, divisive and ill-informed.”

    Pensacola Rep. Mike Hill, the only black Republican in the Legislature, also blasted Jackson’s comments as “a disgrace” in a sharply-worded statement.

    “When Jackson uses language that describes us as an apartheid state and compares our governor to one of history’s most notorious bigots, he is either hopelessly out of touch or purposefully dishonest,” Hill said.

    The multipronged attack on Jackson came as the protests wore through a 16th day at the Capitol. Protesters have called their own “People’s Session,” and held a committee meeting in Scott’s office to take testimony on zero-tolerance policies in schools.

    During that meeting, officials from local chapters of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida delivered a letter to Scott endorsing the protests. After being told Scott wasn’t at the Capitol and chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth was in a meeting, the group read the letter from Henry Crespo Sr., the organization’s president, before handing it to Scott’s receptionist.

    “As governor of Florida, you have the power to calm the fears of thousands of Florida families, especially blacks and Latinos, who are questioning the ability of this state to protect their children from the gross deficiencies of the aforementioned laws,” the letter said.

    Also Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, unveiled a new website — FloridaStandYourGround.org — to help push for changes to the “stand your ground” self-defense law that has spurred a large amount of the debate.

    “The website is a one-stop information center for anyone who wants to know more about the law, what it does, how it’s being misused, and the proposed changes to fix its dangerous flaws,” Smith said.

    –Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida


    Restoration of Rights Workshop, Seminole County

    posted Jul 22, 2013, 9:52 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated Jul 23, 2013, 7:14 PM ]

    Lawyers Assist Ex-Felons with Rights Restoration Process

    By Louis C Ward

    Ex-felons and others petitioning the Florida criminal justice system for restoration of their civil rights received expert assistance from lawyers in filling out “Applications for Clemency” at a “Restoration of Rights” Workshop held Saturday, June 29, 2013 at St Paul Missionary Baptist Church at 813 Pine Street, Sanford , Florida.

    Sponsored by the Seminole County Democratic Black Caucus (SCDBC), the 3 hour workshop disproved many individual's myths about what an ex-felon looks like. Contrary to what many believe, many ex-felons are the neighborhood college student, the responsible parent, or that decent individual you know who's been trying to get a job.

    The point is these individuals are ex-felons because they may have been convicted of drinking under age, hunting in the off season, or even bouncing 4 checks in a year or some other crime that Florida's court system has declared a felony.

    Unfortunately, it's gets worse. These individuals have completed their time in prison, completed required supervision (parole or probation), and paid their monetary restitution to the state, but their civil rights still haven't been restored. They can not vote, get into affordable housing or get a decent job because they are labeled a felon.

    What's the problem?

    According to Ms.Phyllis Hancock, facilitator of the “Restoration of Rights” workshop  (pictured left), it's the bureaucratic process to restore rights, which is controlled by the Florida Executive Board of Clemency.

    The Executive Board of Clemency meets quarterly, and it hears only15 cases at every meeting. Florida has more than 1.2 million ex-felons, more than 900,000 of them have applied to have their civil rights restored. It's incomprehensible the Executive Board of Clemency only adjudicates 60 cases for restoration of rights a year with almost a million ex-felons applying.

    Hancock informed workshop participants that there is an initiative being planned to take the restoration of rights process out of the hands of the governor and give it to the voters.

    Some believe that the privatization of Florida prisons has a lot to do with the backlog of cases created by the “snail” movement of the Florida Executive Board of Clemency. The prison system is a big industry that produces employment and financial opportunities for many. The rights of ex-felons are not important when compared to employment and finance. When ex-felons cannot have their rights restored, they cannot get gainful employment. Ex-felons have to survive, so some will return to a life of crime. Then they become a permanent part of the vicious criminal justice system that doesn't rehabilitate lives, but condemns them to a life of hopelessness.

    “I am glad that they are doing this workshop; it gives me a chance for a clean slate,” said Joseph Thomas (pictured left with SCDBC President, Lavonne Grayson) a junior in college, who came to the workshop to have his criminal record sealed. His criminal record has "been messing with me, in terms of employment, and undermining my chances in seeking a good career."

    “We need more people to vote to change the laws,” said Carsandra Buie, an attorney who volunteered to help ex-felons complete 'Applications for Clemency'. “It was a good turnout and presentation. It was enlightening for me to tell people what they have to do to get straightened out”

    “I want to get the information about restoration of rights for ex-felons out to the community so more volunteers will come out and help,” said Lavonne Grayson, President of SCDBC (pictured above). “It's important to work with ex-felons to help them have their rights restored, otherwise it's taxation without representation.”

    DBCF President Responds to the Landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act

    posted Jul 22, 2013, 9:48 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated Jul 23, 2013, 7:28 PM ]

    Democratic Black Caucus of Florida President Responds to Supreme’s Court’s Ruling on the Landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act

    DBCF President Henry Crespo, Sr. said I am appalled at the recent Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 ruling in the Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder case, which cuts deep into the 1965 Voting Rights Act and weakens the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    The ruling knocked down Section 4, a major part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protected millions of Americans from discrimination in elections and voting in southern states like Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

    Although the entire 1965 Voting Rights Acts was not invalidated, Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act made it impossible for those hostile southern states to change election and voting laws without “pre-clearance” from the United States Attorney General or a federal judge.

    Crespo said that despite improvement some southern states have made to stop discrimination, and Selma, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Mississippi, both have Black mayors, and we elected a Black president, “I still see the need for the 48 year old law to remain as Congress did in 2006, when it voted unanimously in the Senate and near unanimous in the House to reauthorized the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    With regard to Chief Justice John Roberts’ statement that Congress must come up with a new formula based on current data to determined which states should be subject to the “pre-clearance requirements, Crespo said, “With a heavily bipartisan House of Representatives and Senate, the possibility of both houses passing legislation now to stop states from practicing discrimination in election policies and voting laws seems highly improbable because both houses will not want to deal with it.”

     “In the meanwhile,”  Crespo said, “we can expect actions like this from Texas’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said he will move forward with a voter identification law, which had been stopped by a panel of federal judges, and redistricting changes the state tried to institute that are at a standstill in court battles,”

    Despite the uphill battle to enact legislation against voting discrimination, Crespo still encourages Democratic caucuses, clubs, organizations and voters to mobilize and continue to petitioned Florida legislators to move quickly to restore legislation that will protect voters from discrimination and suppression.

    “This not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue!” President Crespo emphasized.

    Democratic Black Caucus of Florida Press Release

    posted Jun 3, 2013, 7:41 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated Jun 3, 2013, 7:50 PM ]

    Florida Democratic Black Caucus Pushes Building Initiative for 2014 Election Victory

    Henry Crespo, Sr

    The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida (DBCF) plans to increase Black voter turnout for the 2014 Gubernatorial Race with a series of county town hall assemblies for its Outreach Building Initiative 2014 Victory Campaign (OBI).  OBI’s first town hall assembly is Sunday, June 15, 2013 at the annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner Weekend at the Western Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.

    Many state and local Democratic leaders will attend the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, a major fund raising event sponsored by The Florida Democratic Party (FDP), and Henry Crespo, President of DBCF, sees a great opportunity to begin the OBI campaign.

    “We will introduce our OBI plan, which focuses on establishing new Democratic Black Caucus Chapters in local counties, and strengthening existing caucus chapters to engage Black voters and register new voters to increase the number of Democratic voters for a Democratic victory in the 2014 election.”

    OBI will focus on two main components: Voter Mobilization and Black Media Outreach. Crespo feels both can help secure the Governor’s race and Democratic victories in the Florida Senate and House in 2014.

    Voter Mobilization focus groups will develop qualitative data from specially designed questions to increase participation and identify issues of concern.  Black Media Outreach will partner with prominent Black owned print and broadcast media to keep Black Democratic voters abreast of issues, events, and activities that are important to Democrats, and show how they can be a part of an effective OBI campaign.

    Well aware of how Republicans increased their representation in Florida’s Senate and House in 2010, Crespo said, “Our OBI campaign strategy will provide a solid infrastructure that positions the Florida Democratic Party to gain seats in the Florida Senate and House. This is not only an opportunity for Democrats to regain the Governor’s Mansion,  Democrats can win state and local elections in 2014, and the Black vote is critical to that opportunity.”

    Download full press release here

    Henry Crespo, Sr.

    Henry Crespo Thanks DBCF Members

    posted May 25, 2013, 1:10 PM by Democratic Black Caucus

    DBCF Officers 1
    We Sincerely Thank You!!! 

    On Saturday April 27, 2013 during the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida 31st Annual Conference held at the Doubletree by the Hilton -Orlando at SeaWorld over a hundred members from across the State of Florida took part in casting their vote for the election of officers for the DBCF. As a result of your vote, I was elected President of the DBCF and want to sincerely thank you for your support. The new DBCF officers joining me are Ms. Lydia Hudson- 1st Vice President, LaVonne Grayson- 2nd Vice President, Dorothy Jackson- Recording Secretary and Francine Garcia- Treasurer. I want you to know that I truly appreciate all of the members that attended and the ones that were not able to attend but were there in spirit. Now the work begins! I look forward to working with you in the coming year to achieve much success for the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.



    Miami Times Article Features DBCF

    posted May 10, 2013, 6:32 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated May 10, 2013, 6:33 PM ]

    DBCF’s Hosts Successful 31st Annual Conference

    posted May 6, 2013, 7:56 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated May 6, 2013, 10:26 PM ]

    DBCF’s 31st Annual 2 Day Conference, held April 26 and 27, 2013 at the Double Tree by the Hilton at Orlando, Sea World, attracted members from almost every DBCF chapter across the state of Florida.

    Outgoing President Dr. Bruce Miles described the 2 day conference as “high spirited”, where members enjoyed a “Network Reception” Friday evening, and on Saturday, members participated in workshops on “History of the DBCF”, Recertification, and “Voting and Elections”, and finally DBCF elections.

    Despite some minor confusion and contention during the election process, almost everyone who attended the conference seemed to have had a good time and looks forward to the vision of newly elected President Henry Crespo and his team making the DBCF a more respected and effective organization in the political process in the state of Florida.

    Here are some members who attended the 2 day conference. (Photographs by Louis C Ward)

    Senator Arthenia Joyner Elected Democratic Leader of the Florida Senate for 2014 -2016

    posted May 3, 2013, 7:32 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated May 3, 2013, 7:36 PM ]

    Henry Crespo, President of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, congratulates Senator Arthenia L Joyner on recently being the first African American woman elected to lead Democrats in the Florida Senate 2014 through 2016

    “Senator Joyner with her extensive experience in the House of Representatives and the Senate has proven to be an effective legislator and champion for her constituents and the people of the state of Florida. 

    The DBCF looks forward to working with Ms. Joyner, who has been at the forefront in the fight to improve life for Floridians through the political process in Florida." President Crespo stated. 

    2013 Newly Elected DBCF Officers

    posted Apr 30, 2013, 6:59 PM by Democratic Black Caucus   [ updated Apr 30, 2013, 7:31 PM ]

    Henry Crespo Elected President of Democratic Black Caucus of Florida
    By Louis C Ward

    Henry Crespo Sr, DBCF President 2013

    After all the politicking by hopeful candidates, the debating, the confusion, and the contention, Henry Crespo of Miami-Dade County was unanimously elected President of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida (DBCF) on Saturday, April 27th at its 31stAnnual Conference held at the Doubletree by the Hilton- Orlando @ Sea World

    During his campaign, Crespo visited many of the DBCF chapters, discussing the issues and problems of the organization, and his strategic plan to make the DBCF a more respected, astute, and powerful political organization. Apparently he impressed a large majority of registered Democratic Black Caucus members.  His election was a mandate from the voters for new leadership and a change of direction for the DBCF. 

    Crespo immediately summoned his newly elected executive board and took control of the historical Black political organization that “was established in 1983 to unite and increase the political power for Black Democrats who went unnoticed.”

    Also elected was Lydia Hudson, 1st Vice President; LaVonne Grayson, 2nd Vice President; Dorothy Jackson, Secretary; and Francine Garcia, Treasurer. Newly elected officers are from Hillsborough, Seminole, Miami-Dade, and Lake Counties, respectively.  Many felt the newly elected executive board would be better able to represent the concerns of the various geographical areas in the state of Florida.

    Crespo said his first order of action will focus on increasing the number of DBCF’s County Chapters, and to make sure existing chapters have everything in place so that they are in compliance with local bylaws and guidelines to pass the recertification process, which is due in July.

    “A strategic plan of action, Crespo said, is necessary, and one will be developed to accomplish the mission, goals and objectives of the DBCF, which will bring us in line to move Forward.  Hopefully, our strategic plan of action will be completed before the end of 2013.”

    Responding to the relationship between the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) and DBCF, Crespo wants a relationship with the FDP that will identify, engage, educate, and motivate democratic voters to elect more democrats in the state to affect public policy.

    Mrs. Allison Tant-Richard Chairwoman of the FDP, sees a positive relationship between the DBCF and the FDP toimprove identify, engage and motive Florida Democrats. “The FDP will work alongside the DBCF to register voters and get them to the polls.  They (FDP and DBCF) will help spread Democratic values and highlight the failures of the GOP into communities across the state which will play a key role in defeating Rick Scott.”

    Newly elected DBCF officers were sworn in by Annette Taddeo, 2nd Vice Chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. Download Full Story here

    2013 Presidential Inaguration

    posted Feb 4, 2013, 7:08 PM by Democratic Black Caucus

    Inaguration.pdf to view photos of the Inaguration by Ms Jackson

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