Jacksonville District wrapped up its 2013 Black History Month events with a visit from Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown Feb. 27.
The Raines High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) color guard participated in the event. During his first 30 days in office, Brown had fought to save all of JROTC in the city’s public high schools.
Brown, the first African American mayor in Jacksonville, took office July 1, 2011 and has made military affairs a priority. His office has received $1 million in grant funding and a $1 million commitment from the Jacksonville Jaguars for military affairs. In addition, his Jobs for Veterans program has more than 100 participating companies.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History marks two important historical anniversaries in 2013. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863, effectively ending slavery in the United States. A century later, at the 1963 March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech as hundreds of thousands marched for civil rights and equality.
Brown served on the National Board of Directors of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and got to know Coretta Scott King. He invited members of the King family to Jacksonville to talk about civil rights and what it means to celebrate King’s legacy.
“Black history is our history, everyone’s history,” said Brown. “No matter who you are or where you live it’s very significant. It affects us all.”
Brown also served as a senior member of the Clinton administration and served with the Bush-Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, which distributed more than $20 million to rebuild houses of worship on the Gulf Coast.
“In Jacksonville we’re very fortunate to have deep history,” said Brown. Mary Singleton was the first African American city council member, elected in 1967 by a margin of 4,000 votes. A. Philip Randolph, along with other civil rights leaders, rallied to encourage President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the Fair Employment Act in 1941.
“Black history means accountability, responsibility and opportunity. It means that we have the ability to work together to fully empower people and believe that they too could live the American dream by getting a good education, by focusing on what they can do to be successful,” said Brown. “We must examine our past to appreciate the value of our future.”
Brown reminded the audience that many people have paid a dear price for us to enjoy our freedom, and he encouraged Corps employees to reach back and help others by becoming mentors. He thanked the Corps for its leadership and congratulated Tim Brown on his award as Black Engineer of the Year.
Two Florida State College students, Jazmyne Jones and Alexis Lewis, performed a monologue titled, “Equality to Come, Equality to Be.”