Florida Black Dems elect new state officers

caines | 5/9/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Now seek to increase membership and prepare for 2014 governors race Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek remembers her early days in Florida politics when there were just a handful of Black politicians representing the States 67 counties. It was shortly after Miami had erupted in a three-day siege now known as the McDuffie Riots, she says, when Morris W. Milton, a man before his time, invited Black elected officials to unite in the efforts of increasing their political power for fellow Black Democrats. The result was the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida [DMCF] founded in 1983. Meek was one of the groups charter members. Morris was a consummate leader and he was always willing to take on issues that were important to Blacks, Meek added. He was a bright man and he could come up with solutions like no one else I have known. Remember that in those days there was no Congressional Black Caucus. We leaned on each other for support. Willie Logan, who was a state representative at the time, also joined the group as one of its charter members. You could count us on two or three hands, he said. We represented different levels of government: State legislators, commissioners and school board members. But there werent enough of us in positions within our various levels of government. So we formed a caucus from our collective groups. But we were all Democrats. You have to remember that there werent any single member districts either at the state or local level of government. That was our main goal and we were successful. Now, some 30 years later, the DBCF has elected a new slate of state officers and is making strides towards increasing its membership to more respectful numbers. But more than anything, the new officers of the DBCF say the plan to have a voice as the Democratic Party readies itself for a potentially grueling battle for the Governors mansion in next years election.

Shifting the power to a new regime

Dorothy Jackson has lived in Miami for 45 years. She joins the new slate of state officers as the secretary but has previously served as the Caucuss president [2000-2003]. We have had some good times and some bad, she said. When I served as president we were in receivership and the Florida Democratic Party had revoked our state charter. Now you have a combination of young and old serving at the state level. I agreed to serve again as a state officer because you need a mixture of experience to effectively get things done. I would like to think that I can bring some guidance to the caucus as we go about our goal of rebuilding. Jackson [representing Miami-Dade County] is joined by the following: Henry Crespo, Sr., president [Miami-Dade County]; Lydia Hudson, first vice-president [Hillsborough County]; LaVonne W. Grayson, second vice-president [Seminole County]; and Francine Garcia, treasurer [Lake County]. Crespo defeated El Portal Mayor Daisy Black by a significant margin in the recent elections and replaces former president, Dr. Bruce Miles. Miles declined comment about his six-year tenure or the direction of the organization. According to documents obtained from the Caucus, there are now 15 chapters in the State with three others going through the certification process. In January, membership had dwindled to 147, representing seven chapters. Today the membership has increased to 370. I know that some have been critical of a Black group having a president that is of mixed heritage [Crespo is a Black Cuban] but given the influence of Spanish in Florida, especially South Florida, I think it will be a plus for our organization.