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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Black Florida lawmaker calls Jesse Jackson a 'disgrace'

Mike Hill

Mike Hill



Newly-elected state Rep. Mike Hill of Pensacola, the lone African-American Republican in the Florida Legislature, issued the following statement in response to recent comments from Jesse Jackson about Florida:

“As a father, a husband, and a business-owner in Florida, I find the attacks on our state and our leaders by Jesse Jackson ridiculous. As a black man who has been able to live my dreams in this great state, Jackson’s comments are dangerously divisive and offensive.

“I first came to the Sunshine State as a young Air Force officer, and found a place so beautiful and filled with opportunity I decided to make it my home. When the entrepreneurial spirit took hold, my neighbors and colleagues embraced my new venture without prejudice or discrimination. In the decades since, I have been blessed with a loving family and a community where people are treated with respect.

“When Jackson uses language that describes us as an apartheid state and compares our governor to one of history’s most notorious bigots, he is either hopelessly out of touch or purposefully dishonest.

“Just this summer, I, a black man in Florida, was elected to serve in the Florida House of Representatives just about 180 miles away from the bridge in Selma where racism and hatred were violently acted out. I understand the difference between where America was, where it is today, and where it will go tomorrow.

“The incidents that unfolded and resulted in the tragic death of a young, black man deserved to be heard in our criminal justice system. They were, and a jury of peers decided the outcome based on our laws and a process that originates in our divinely-inspired Constitution.

“For Jesse Jackson to disagree with the outcome of that process is a right and privilege he and every citizen are guaranteed. But for a man who casts himself as a defender of these rights to disparage Florida and our nation with reckless and unfounded commentary is a disgrace.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 5:11pm]


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