There is a reason Nikki Fried was endorsed by the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida. As Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services, she has been outspoken on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her plans for Black Floridians – from economic justice to fighting for Civil Rights, and more – are as aggressive as they are necessary.
Early in her tenure as Agriculture Commissioner, she established a new Director of Diversity and Inclusion position at the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Ser-vices (FDACS). It should not have been, but was the first of its kind in department history.
After the murder of George Floyd, she began a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion working group within FDACS, a 12-member committee of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This group announced critical changes to the department’s policies and procedures that made them more inclusive and sent a message that racist, discriminatory, or otherwise un-acceptable content would not be tolerated.
Nikki has been an historic Agriculture Commissioner as an ardent supporter of Black farmers. She named the first Black woman as Woman of the Year in Agriculture, and sought funding from the Biden Administration to create a joint equity advisory commission to increase opportunities for Black farmers.
Speaking to Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell on his podcast, Nikki said that she would explore a program similar to the one instituted by the California Governor that established a Reparations Task Force.
The Task Force in California made a strong case that inequities and harm due to the historic enslavement of Black people at our nation’s founding persist today. Some ideas proposed by the Task Force include bold new ideas like housing grants, free tuition, and raising the minimum wage.
Of course, the fight for Black rights – including our Civil Rights – is far from relegated to history. Our Civil Rights – which many Americans fought, bled, and died for – are under attack once again, particularly at the ballot box. Nikki will always stand on the side of expanding our Civil Rights, not limiting them as Governor DeSantis has done.
She will fight to bring back the Black Congressional districts which were so callously stripped away by Governor DeSantis and the Republicans of the Florida Legislature. Nikki will expand access to mail ballots, automatically register to vote anyone who seeks a driver’s license, implement same day voter registration, and make Election Day a state holiday, because every voter, including working people, should have the best possible opportunity to cast their ballots.
Unlike her primary opponent who enacted legislation requiring inmates, the majority of which were Black, to work shackled on infrastructure projects, earning him the moniker “Chain Gang Charlie,” Nikki has served as a public defender, a Constitutionally protected voice for those who need it most. She knows firsthand that poverty and injustice are almost always linked.
When she is governor, she will begin to right the inherent wrongs in our system and eliminate barriers for Floridians who have served their time and seek to reenter society. She will Improve pretrial services and supervision, increase diversion programs, expand proven programs like drug courts. And she will seek full legalization of marijuana in Florida. Nikki will expunge all existing charges and sentences for misdemeanor as well as third-degree felony marijuana possession.
As Governor, Nikki knows the most important thing she can do is to improve economic outcomes for Black Floridians. After a generation of Republican rule, Florida’s thriving economy has become disconnected from the individuals it is meant to serve. This year, Florida was ranked the eleventh-worst state in which to raise a family. Our poverty rate is far too high, particularly for children, and even more so for Black children. Our rankings for working-class people and health care are consistently at the bottom. Nikki’s plan seeks to improve all areas of Black life in Florida. But we all know that when we focus on improving the ability for Black people to gain wealth, we mitigate many of the other issues. Unlike Charlie Crist, who lost statewide three times and opted to not attend the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida (DBCF) statewide conference after confirming his attendance and participation in the Gubernatorial forum, she will be there for the Black community.
It has been too long since we have had a Member of the Florida Cabinet with a record of action on racial and social justice issues and championing Black communities. Nikki Fried has been that champion on the Florida Cabinet, and that is something worth acknowledging, lifting up and celebrating. We honor her service, and build on it, by giving Nikki Fried our vote this August.
Jill Lewis-Daggs is the Treasurer and Program & Logistics Director of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.