The Florida Conference of Black State Legislators Foundation, in partnership with the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, successfully hosted its 27th Annual State of Black Florida Events on January 23-24, 2020, in Tallahassee, Florida. Leaders and stakeholders from across the state educated participants on the most critical issues currently affecting black Floridians.
The Annual State of Black Florida Events, chaired by Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson (Senate District 6, Duval), began with a free and open to the public Chairman’s Welcome Reception on Thursday, January 23, 2020, at the Doubletree Hotel.
The Annual Kershaw-Cherry Legislative Luncheon was held on Friday, January 24, 2020, at the Donald L Tucker Civic Center and featured Lieutenant General (Retired) Gwendolyn Bingham as the keynote speaker. A true trailblazer, Lt. Gen. Bingham was the first female officer to serve as 51st Quartermaster General of the United States Army and Commandant of the United States Army Quartermaster School, and was only the second black female officer to attain the rank of three-star general in Army history.
The Annual State of Black Florida Events concluded with the Scholarship Gala Celebration on Friday, January 24, 2020, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, where the Florida Conference of Black Legislators awarded $75,000 in scholarships to high-achieving black students attending Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Florida State University. The Florida Conference of Black Legislators also awarded internships to several scholarship recipients, who will gain real-world experience working alongside legislators this session. Featuring a 1930’s, “Harlem Nights” theme, gala attendees were treated to opulent period decor, including classic cars and Art-Deco centerpieces, classic southern cuisine, and a carving station. Local band Tallahassee Nights Live performed a rousing, crowd-pleasing set spanning a variety of musical genres from R&B and hip hop to gospel and classic soul.
With respect to this year’s events, Sen. Gibson remarked, “The enthusiastic response to the Annual State of Black Florida Events has been overwhelming. We pushed ourselves to raise the standard of excellence, education, and entertainment at each of our events, and we far exceeded our goals. I would like to congratulate our planning team on their hard work, collaboration, and attention to detail in ensuring a positive, joyous experience for our participants. Those who were unable to attend truly missed out on the best set of Annual State of Black Florida Events in years. We hope everyone can join us in 2021 when we plan to further raise the bar.”
Representative Bruce Antone (House District 46, Orlando), Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, further commented, “Last week’s Annual State of Black Florida Events exceeded all expectations. We are very grateful to our supporters, whose generosity allowed us to award $75,000 in scholarships that will make a real difference in the lives of black college students and help better secure the futures of the next generation of leaders in our state. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.”