The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida held its 40th anniversary at the Rosen Centre in Orlando May 19-21.

Forty years ago in 1981, the Florida State Democratic Party Convention in Hollywood realized there was a need for more Blacks in the party. A decision was made at the convention to unite Black Democrats across the state.

On Sept. 24, 1983, the organization was officially recognized by the Florida Democratic Party as the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida. The title of this year’s convention was titled: “Remember the Past – Fight for Our Future.” The conference was a celebration of the past and a new paradigm for the future.

The weekend was filled with a call to action and picking new officials for two years in the caucus. The DBCF believes that the future of the caucus depends on building coalitions, establishing a Black agenda, and demanding equitable business transactions.

As a fundamental part of the Florida Democratic Party infrastructure, the caucus functions as the “soul of the party.’’

The coordinator of the entire conference was Jill Lewis-Daggs. She is the president of the Okaloosa DBC, and treasurer and program director statewide. On May 19, DBCF held its first event titled: “DBCF: State of the Caucus – Hour of Power.’’

The three speakers were Attorney Sean Shaw; chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Nikki Fried; and president of DBCF statewide, Trevor Mallory.

Acknowledged past defeats

Attorney Shaw started the event off with the truth and why our community does not vote.

Democrats many times when talking to Blacks, “They don’t talk to us about jobs, don’t talk about great schools for our children, and why there is so much apathy in voting in our community.”

He talked about the importance of the numbers game, and the caucus cannot win if we don’t know the numbers across the state.

The next speaker was Nikki Fried, who received her endorsement from the caucus, when she ran in the primary for governor.

“If it was not because of the Black community, I would not be Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, and chair of the Democratic Party. Every day I am so humbled by the Black support,” Fried said.

During her impactful speech, Fried acknowledged the Florida Democratic Party crumbled and did not do the work on the ground in the last election. This time around, she has appointed four vice chairs with different responsibilities such as Black outreach, Spanish outreach, interfaith relations, and young group relations.

The final speaker was Caucus President Trevor Mallory, Pinellas County, who begin his speech by acknowledging that the Democratic Party broke down in the last election cycle. He acknowledged local and state politicians, organization leaders, and significant Democratic Party members.

New DBCF officers

On Saturday afternoon, the new officials were voted into office starting with Trevor Mallory, president; first vice president, Christina Forrest; second vice president, Tim Ayers; recording secretary, Dr. Cashmore Shaw; and treasurer, Jill Lewis-Daggs.

Finally, there was the fabulous and powerful gala on Saturday night. There were two wonderful speakers, Attorney Aramis Ayala and Dr. Rev. William Barber, who focused on telling the truth, and never stand in silence for injustice.

Aramis Ayala began her speech on the topic of truth and lies. Lies are at the foundation of this country, and Blacks must focus on truth.

“It takes maturity to tell the truth, and more Americans are becoming desensitized to lies. There must be zero tolerance to lies,” says Ayala. Truth will set you free, if you stand on truth. The hard truth will let the trees bear fruit that our people need and want.

Finally, Dr. Barber spoke to the audience on video, and the education and insight again focused on truth.

“We must let everyone know that this is an old game, because the KKK was organized to divide the whites against the Blacks. In order for the GOP to win elections by dividing the country, and making the Democratic Party a Black Party,” said Dr. Barber.

Over half of Floridians are poor, and all of us must stop fighting each other. We have a responsibility to get the news to tell the truth because poverty is why Americans must come together and fight for justice and truth.

There were awards given out and the 40th conference was informative and educational. There is a new group of officials ready to go to work and get started.

Diversity and increasing membership will be the goal of DBCF in 2023 and focus on the younger leaders and members.

Roger Caldwell, a community activist, author, journalist, radio host and CEO of On Point Media Group, lives in Orlando. Contact him at

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