Broward County Democratic Black Caucus Leadership swearing in Broward County Democratic Black Caucus Leadership Constance Saunders (Treasurer), Corey Shearer (President), Janet Burnett (1st Vice), Allison Hankerson-Harris (2nd Vice), and Percy Johnson (Secretary) being sworn in by President of Florida Democratic Black Caucus, Henry Crespo.
From Corey Shearer, president Broward County Democratic Black Caucus
The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida and each county’s individual Democratic Black Caucus owes its origins to meetings in Broward County at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida during the 1981 Florida State Democratic Party Convention.
During this time, our representatives to the US Congress Alcee Hastings, Carrie Meek, and Corrine Brown as well as community activists such as Hazel Armbrister talked about ways to organize to realize true political power for their communities. They came up with the idea of forming a Democratic Black Caucus (established in 1983) in order to galvanize the strength of the vote in the Black community and to increase the political power of Black Democrats.
Over the years the purpose has come to a focus on voter registration drives (EVRD), get out the vote (GOTV) canvassing campaigns, and voter action network (VAN) training and u-sage. The Democratic Black Caucus has also attempted to fight back against rulings and procedures handed down from the Republican majority in Tallahassee that have threatened the ability for certain groups to be able to reasonably cast a ballot in elections as is their right. Most recently there has been a shift to phone banking and educational seminars to increase vote by mail (VBM) especially for those who other-wise would have trouble voting or were thrown of the rolls by procedures from the Republican majority in Florida’s State Capitol.
The Black Caucus has also been responsive to those from our community who are frustrated with certain new laws and interpretations of laws such as “Stand Your Ground”. There have been meetings and “Days of Action” throughout Florida as both the need to communicate and craft policy has been combined with the need for action and outlets for emotional, passionate response to threats to our children and community.
In 2013, the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida (DBCF), the Florida Black Caucus of Local Black Caucus (FBC-LEO), NAACP, and the ACLU hosted a series of nonpartisan town hall assemblies to allow citizens to publicly address or submit documentation on violations to their civil liberties. These town hall meetings became known as the “Florida Speaks Tour”. With the help of State Senator Dwight Bullard and Congresswoman Corrine Brown, DBCF President Henry Crespo attempted to turn public discourse and political power into positive action for the Black community throughout the state of Florida
In 2014, the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus (BCDBC) reorganized and began to meet at the ALF-CIO Broward meeting hall in Plantation. The attendance and interest has been strong and the interaction and responsiveness of the guest speakers even stronger. The Broward County Democratic Black Caucus had its charter approved by the Democratic Clubs and Caucuses of Florida (DCCF) chartering committee at the DCCF annual conference in Jacksonville, Fla. As stated prior, the Demo-cratic Black Caucus of Florida was actually conceived of during meetings in Broward County. Thus, it is only appropriate that activists from our community are re-establishing a strong caucus in Broward County. Broward County is one of the strongest Democratic areas of these United States and as such is deserving of a strong Broward County Democratic Black Caucus.
As the ceremonial hand-kerchief dropped in Tallahassee last week signaling the end to the 60-day legislative session, we were reminded of the victories that can be won through the efforts of hard-working, passionate advocates willing to walk the halls of government. This last session, the Florida House passed a medical marijuana bill (and also passed in the Florida Senate, although, a revote is needed due to changes in the House version of the bill). This was in response to parents and their sick children flocking to the halls of Tallahassee in numbers and a persistence that could not be ignored.
We are also reminded of the continued neglect and out-right resistance to addressing the needs of our community. We must organize and mobilize in order to be an effective part of the legislative process and make sure the voices of our community are heard loud and clear in a way that cannot be ignored. The use of numbers and persistence that cannot be ignored worked this past session for a group of advocates. If we apply that type of organized action to the upcoming elections beginning Aug. 15 and ending Nov. 4, then we can send a message about the needs and demands of our community that cannot be ignored in Tallahassee or Washington D.C.
The Broward County Democratic Black Caucus meets every third Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Broward County AFL-CIO Meeting Hall, 1700 N.W. 66 Ave. Suite 100, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (across from Plantation High School 16th Street, off of Sunrise Boulevard).
Broward County Democratic Black Caucus Leadership: Corey Shearer, President; Janet Burnett, 1st Vice Chair; Allison Hankerson-Harris, 2nd Vice Chair; Percy Johnson, Secretary; Constance Saunders, Treasurer; Dan Finkelstein, Parliamentarian. Board of Directors: Grace Carrington, Senior Advisor; Michael Howsen, Advisor; Clyve Webster, Ad-visor; Lisa Stewart P.A., General Counsel; Tom O’Connell P.A., General Counsel Broward County Democratic Black Caucus Website: http://democracy.com/broward-county-democratic-black-caucus/default.aspx