City of Jacksonville: Its Time for a Change

 by Ben Frazier
 
The City of Jacksonville has a long history of corrupt and racist politics. For years, the white city fathers supported a power structure that ignored the rights of black residents and even allowed them to be terrorized by white mobs. 
BACK IN THE PAST
During the 1960s, the “good old boy” network was the de facto standard among those in government. Cronyism, rampant corruption, and racial violence were common. One of the most stunning examples occurred on August 27, 1960. The NAACP had initiated a protest to integrate downtown lunch counters.  Segregationists responded by attacking the protesters. On that day, known as Ax Handle Saturday, protesters were terrorized at Hemmings Park while white politicians at city hall and law enforcement officials turned their heads and looked the other way.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Let’s  fast forward now to our present political reality. A line can be drawn showing an odious connection between the politics of the past and the politics of the present. White public officials ignored the plight of the city’s black population back then, and an argument can be made that by way of ineffective policies the same thing is happening now. To be sure, people of color did not get their fair share of the economic pie back then, and they are not getting it now. Shad Khan’s millions are not being split with black entrepreneurs or the black community but instead, they are being doled out to yet another generation of white power brokers and a few politically co-opted and neutralized blacks. Sure, there is some sharing of the wealth, but not nearly enough. Not enough money is making its way to minority advertising or marketing budgets.
Worthy community causes that empower social infrastructures like Little League and Pop Warner teams, cheerleading squads, and school bands deserve more support! Zip code 32209 is a classic example of where money could be better spent. The residents of 09 are under siege; they are suffering the ill effects of a veritable plethora of social problems. Arguably, it would take a “Marshall Plan” to upgrade their quality of life. But critics say the Curry administration has turned its back on the residents of this zip code and a few other Zip codes as well. 
A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
Whether it chooses to admit it or not, the present white power structure has serious relationship issues with the city’s black residents. They know how to talk “At” us, but they fail miserably when it comes to talking “With” us. It has not shown any desire to usher in a new and creative thought process. So far, it has failed to connect the dots showing the relationship between poverty, unemployment, and crime.
Since his term began two years ago, the Mayor has failed to announce any New measures or proposals to counter the effects of “economic racial disparities.” Those disparities have been outlined by several studies. The newly formed Northside Coalition of Jacksonville is now demanding the Mayor take the initiative, to use his privilege and his leadership to call on a predominately white Chamber of Commerce to work closer with Jacksonville’s black businesses.
Economic injustice is the new civil rights focus; the racial disparities are too numerous to mention.   Its time now for all the stakeholders to realize that just like them, black folks also want to get paid so they can become partners in the city’s progress.
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