Movement for Change Dinner – behind the scenes

July 22, 2006

coffeePolitical candidates and elected officials filled the room: Tom Banjanin (I checked his car in the parking lot. No Grover signs); Elvin McCovery – ECUA & local head of NAACP, John Jerralds – Pens. City Council, Elizabeth Campbell running for state rep – Dist 3; Edwin Roberts – County commission – Dist. 2; Joe Roberts – Congress; Sam Hall – Pensacola City Council, Dist 2; Armando Grundy-Gomes, Esc. Soil & Water Board, Dist 2.
Save (Stop?) Our City was there – Charles Fairchild, Byron Kessler, atty Peter McDavid. Irony: The group stopping change attends a Movement for Change dinner.

I sat across the room (near the food, of course) with Quint Studer, his community relations director for his charitable foundation Gwen Applequist, Mort O’Sullivan and two young black professionals from his firm O’Sullivan Creel- one, Latosha L. Williams, is a UWF graduate (we are keeping some here).

The dinner was held on NAS Pensacola at the Mustin Beach Officers’ Club. It was combination church revival, political rally and civil rights event. It’s official title and theme: Sixth Annual Freedom is not Free Banquet: “Vision without Limits, A Change is Gonna’ Come.”

Jeanne Boyd (board member and wife of Leroy Boyd – the group’s president) was the emcee. Judy Cook led all the singing beautifully – including a rousing version of “Lean on Me” to close the event. Rev. Erskin Blankenship led prayers to open and close the event, as well as grace over the meal.

At breaks, there was a lot of handshaking. I was impressed by Armando Grundy-Gomes – a recent UWF graduate who is running against Greg Fink – son of ECUA board member Logan Fink and currently a reporter of the “Pensacola Voice.” Armando and Fink are running for the Dist. 2 seat on the Esc. Soil & Water Conservation Board…. hey, somebody needs to.

Armando is running in hopes of getting younger, newer voices in government. He is personable and worked the room well. I asked him to come by the office to talk.

Quint knew several of the ministers and their wives. There was a steady stream of visitors – shaking hands, sharing jokes and words of encouragement.

I was pleased to see how many there read our paper. Got several compliments on our coverage of the Jail and Boggan death and coroner’s inquest. “I like your style.” “You don’t hold back.” “You’re fatter than your picture.”

PNJ came but left during the meal – before the awards were given and before the keynote address. Daily deadlines are hell – most of their article in the paper today is based on quotes gotten on the side. Old newspaper trick to make it sound like it was part of the meeting.


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