By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV). This lesson was instilled in Val by her parents.
At The Circuit in The Midtown Commerce Center on the morning of March 10, Sheryl Dickey hosted a warm and casual introduction of Senate Candidate Val Demings(D-FL). “This is one of many events that U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings will have throughout her campaign to get to know all of the Senatorial area she will represent,” said host Sheryl Dickey, President & CEO of Dickey Consulting.
As a former Social Worker and Chief of Police in Orange County Florida, U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings(D-FL), is a more than qualified candidate to take the Florida U.S. Senate seat from Marco Rubio. Sen. Marco Rubio has a very slight lead in front of Val Demings in new polls but fails to crack 50% threshold, showing vulnerability.
Local ILA member and voter advocate, whose family is entrenched in the history of Broward County, Art Kennedy knows that in order for Demings to win she has to come from the ground up.
“I say that her campaign has to be grassroots and getting volunteers to get our communities to buy into her philosophy. She has to walk the walk and her success is going to be predicated on getting as many people as possible who don’t look like us to believe!!”
After a soulful prayer from Rev. Dr. Pat Langston-Crusoe, Associate Minister Mt Hermon AME Fort Lauderdale, after thanking those in attendance, a very poised, self-assured, and articulate senatorial candidate addressed the audience and began to tell her story.
“I BELIEVE THAT ONLY IN AMERICA CAN A LITTLE BLACK GIRL, THE DAUGHTER OF A MAID AND A JANITOR, GROWING UP IN THE SOUTH IN THE ’60s, HAVE SUCH AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. NO ONE CAN MAKE ME GIVE UP ON AMERICA.”
“I learned from my mama and daddy about the meaning of the American Dream.
“They didn’t have much with seven children. We lived in a small wooden house in Jacksonville.”
Her mother Mrs. Elouise Butler worked as a maid; her father Mr. James was a hardworking man with several jobs that he did willingly to feed and care for his family. He worked as a janitor, landscaper, and orange picker.
“My daddy worked hard and played by the rules,” they taught me to have faith.” “Treat others as you want to be treated.” “Never tire of doing good.”
“Her message of love, strength and commitment to serve is a statement of a God fearing, David fighting woman, which has earned her right to serve as the next US Senator of the State of Florida,” commented Vern Dooling.
Telling her story that resonates with the voters she needs to beat Rubio, Demings is an example of hope.
“To see Ms. Demings serving the people makes me feel hopeful and amazing! It shows me and all Black Women that anything is possible with God! If you just believe, have faith, and continue to fight for what you want, you can be whatever you want to be no matter what the circumstances of your up bringing, “stated a hopeful Yolanda Kennedy.
At 14 Demings’ first job was a dishwasher. She became the first in her family to go to college. While in college she worked at fast food restaurants so she could earn money to stay in school. While working as a social worker to keep broken families together and to protect children from broken homes, she began to realize what she wanted to do. Witnessing the destruction of the family and environment not conducive for raising families, she became a police officer. She was able to use what she learned as a social worker to assist families whom she came in contact with as a police officer.
It was difficult for a Black woman to achieve in a profession dominated by white men. Not a stranger to obstacles, Demings was able to earn commendations of excellence and a reputation of not being afraid to tackle tasks that were extreme and, in most cases, in the toughest parts of town.
Obtaining every rank in the department, Chief Demings served for 27 years. From the Special Operations division to the highest-profile tasks of 9/11. In 2007, she made history when she was appointed to serve as the city’s first female Chief of Police.
In 2016, the voters of Florida’s 10th District elected Chief Demings to serve in Congress. Her reputation as a tireless champion for public safety, civil rights, and the belief in the American Dream planted and watered by “never grow weary in doing good” is giving her a chance to succeed. She garners noteworthy attention in her deliberative justice-focused demeanor as manager in the impeachment trial of former President Donald John Trump.
Christine Jones, Chair- National Congress of Black Women Inc, Broward Chapter, supports Demings not only for what she had to overcome but the issues she is addressing currently. “I stand with her because she is willing to support and bring attention to issues that affect us. Issues like voting rights, women rights, and education.”
Val Demings is not a chump. She has on numerous occasions shown that she will stand up to a fight. When Rubio (R-FL) accused the former police chief of having a “sudden interest” in fighting crime, she posted a sharply worded tweet that highlighted her prior career in law enforcement.
Demings replied to the statement on Twitter, saying: 27 years of putting on a bulletproof vest to go to work as a law enforcement officer is not a “sudden interest” in combating violent crime. I reduced violent crime by 40% as Orlando’s Chief of Police while Marco Rubio was home asleep in his bed.
Rep. Val Demings and her husband Jerry Demings (currently serving as Mayor of Orange County) have been blessed with three children and five grandchildren. When she’s not serving her constituents and spending time with her family, she rides her Harley-Davidson Road King Classic.
Through all of it, she has never tired of doing good, in Jacksonville.
Demings stands on unity and diversity. “I believe in what America stands for and I’ll fight for that promise.
“We have to have courage and be committed enough to fight for it, together.”
A seasoned strategist and community activist, Mr. Art Kennedy offered an approach that candidate Demings should truly use. He said, “Her greatest chance of winning is to work through churches of all faiths – parishioners usually listen to their Pastor.”