Democratic Black Caucus Florida hosts panel discussion at Florida Democratic Party’s Convention at Disney World
By Louis C. Ward
“This is an important day and an important event. Your presence represents the relevance and need to mobilize and engage the African American vote. African Americans make up 29 percent and minorities 16 percent of the party. We need to speak to those issues to move those voters to the polls, Lydia Hudson, the first woman recently elected to lead the Democratic Black Caucus Florida, said, when she opened the Caucus Panel Session at the Florida Democratic Party’s “A Better Florida” Convention Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 at Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando.
“Once, many believed that the African American vote was about inclusion and equality, and it is. However, statistics show that our vote and our voice in Florida is the Democratic party,” said Hudson, seated among panelists, who included U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings, State Representative Sean Shaw, DBCF Vice President Russell Drake, Francine Julius Edwards of Marion County’s Democratic Women’s Club, John Jones from Washington, D.C., the panel moderator, and a standing room only crowd of attendees.
President Hudson said we know that a decent living wage and quality education will move our voters to the polls. We know that civil liberties and criminal justice issues, and affordable housing are priorities that will move our voters to the polls, President Hudson continued.
“If these are the concerns facing one third of our party, candidates and elected officials must demonstrate an awareness of these issues and speak to them. We now know that the mobilization of the African American vote is linked to the success of the party in general elections,” revealed President Hudson.
Questions submitted by the attendees for specific panelists to answer dominated the remainder of the Democratic Black Caucus panel session.
“We have a big challenge before us in 2018 and 2020, and that’s what we are here to talk about today,” said moderator John Jones. “When the African American community turns out across the state, Democrats do well. When Democrats do well, the state of Florida, the country does well.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who is running for re-election, focused on President Trump, saying would you have ever thought that a President of the United States would treat a member of Congress the way he talks about Fredrica Wilson? Have you ever thought that a President of the United States would dismiss and “dis” Puerto Rico after it was hit by a category 4 storm? Nelson said Trump’s tax plan will cut half trillion dollars from Medicaid and a trillion and a half dollars from Medicare.
Representative Sean Shaw said, “We need to talk to Black people where they are. When I knock on doors in Tampa, people tell me I was just as poor under Republicans as I am under Democrats. When we have national elections, use people that are from the community that know the community. We have to tie all the Republicans to Trump, even the ones who are not talking as bad as him because they are enabling him”
“I raised my hand and I swore that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic (referring to President Trump),” stated U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings. “If there is any hope at all to save our nation, it resides with the Democratic Party.”
Otis Brown from Citrus County said I thought all the speakers addressed issues that are relevant to our community, including criminal justice, voting rights, and health care. I think they are all good candidates.
“The panel discussion was very much needed for the Black voters, especially to hear directly from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. It was good that the Senator made the Black Caucus a priority,” said Beverly Neal.