Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus- McCormick
Westside Gazette Publisher, Bobby R. Henry, Sr. pictured with Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle Rogers and Commissioner Beverly Williams; who were presented with flowers by caucus members Ruth Carter-Lynch and Easton Harrison (also pictured).
By Dixie Ann Black
On Monday June 20, state and federal buildings were closed for the historic Juneteenth holiday. But Mayor Hazelle Rogers and her staff opened the Lauderdale Lakes Multipurpose Center to host the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus’ Black Town Hall.
Piper High School’s Men of Impact, Step Team, under the leadership of Coach Frank Pinkney, raised the roof with their energy and precision after the invocation and African American Anthem.
The Westside Gazette’s own Bobby Henry, moderated by fielding questions to the various panels.
The first panel was made up of undersheriff Nicole Anderson, Colonel Josepha Benjamin and Imam Nasir Ahmad. They tackled questions on assault weapons and criminal and social justice.
In addressing assault weapons the undersheriff said, “We need stricter legislation as to who can acquire firearms and at what age. Personally, we do not need assault weapons in the community.”
Both Anderson and Benjamin underscored mentorship and community involvement for reducing crime.
“’If you see something, say something’ is not snitching; it’s protecting our community.”
Colonel Benjamin stressed the need to keep children positively engaged to protect them from ending up in the criminal justice system. But even then, she pointed out that the city is actively involved in rehabilitating youth through its re-entry division.
Imam Ahmad summed up his stance on social justice as follows,
“Every individual is physically different but blood flows equally through all, and so it should be socially. We are here to awaken our “policemen” inside us.” By this metaphor he explained that we are to “handcuff” desires and activities within ourselves that go against protecting the community. He went on to stress the importance of mothers, fathers, and other community members.
“Freedom is free the ‘dome’,” the Imam said, referring to the mind rather than just the physical body. Dr. Ahmad is the Imam of the historic Masjid Al-Ansar Mosque in Miami.
The second panel consisted of Ruth Carter Lynch, Dr. Sherri Wilson, Sandra Davis and Dr. Sabrina Thomas. The emphasis of this panel was on education. They were tasked with answering the question, “How do we improve schools that have traditionally struggled for years?”
Ms. Davis, in explaining that the change starts at home asked the question, “What are parents saying to kids who come to school unprepared, with no pencil or paper?”
Dr. Thomas summed up her answer with, “It takes a village.” She went on to say that this responsibility belongs to the entire community. The panel outlined more detailed participation that is needed, including exposure to a variety of subjects and modalities of learning to develop a “deep well of knowledge” to help students discern what is truthful and helpful. In answer to the moderator’s request for a summary on the state of education, Ruth Carter-Lynch responded,
“The state of education is a mess, but you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have to figure out how we can fix this.”
The legislative update was delivered by Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus- McCormick. She announced the house passage of the economic justice bill dealing with financial services. This prohibits discrimination making it a criminal act to discriminate against Blacks when it comes to any kind of federal financial services. Other proposals in the pipeline are a gas tax relief bill, the people’s prosperity plan and stipends for housing and food under housing crisis initiatives as well as community projects. She informed the group that over $18 billion dollars has been invested in the state of Florida which has led to the discovery that the number-one entrepreneurs in the state are Black males, followed by Black females. McCormick said the government is working quickly to handle the housing crisis in Florida as it is the second hardest hit state in the nation behind California.
Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar, updated the audience regarding property rights and fraud. Joe Scott, Supervisor of Elections updated the audience on redistricting, voting by mail, voting days and other essential housekeeping information.
Election day is August 23, early voting starts August 13th. 2022.