WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A coalition of thought leaders, business people, government ofﬁcials and faith-based leaders has united to address the preponderance of disparities and inequities facing blacks in the tri-county area.
Members say the newly formed South Florida Black Prosperity Alliance (SFBPA) will be a uniﬁed front tackling poverty and promoting prosperity in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Representatives from the group announced their initiatives during news conferences in all three counties throughout the day on Feb. 18, beginning in Miami and culminating in West Palm Beach.
They noted the internationally renowned business districts that attract the wealthy to South Florida, and that the region is a magnet for those seeking a high quality of life.
They also pointed out that for Blacks in the area, some ugly truths remain: that Blacks are often the poorest and in the lower rungs of all areas of life in South Florida, and disparities in housing, ﬁnance, health, government procurement, banking, jobs and education all threaten the quality of life for the area’s AfricanAmerican and Caribbean populations.
The Alliance is taking joint action against those discriminatory practices, the representatives said.
“We are now working together on all of our collective issues,” said Ann Marie Sorrell, president and CEO of the Mosaic Group, also recently elected to the Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation board. “We will also engage our governments to address disparities and inequities. We are a collective effort be-
cause we realize there is strength in numbers.”
Sorrell spoke during the SFBPA’s third news conference of the day, at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark Memorial, which is being renovated by a Blackowned business, in West Palm Beach’s Currie Park.
The group will tackle issues at the forefront right now, others added. “Equity and inclusion are timely issues that are needed now,” said Eric Knowles, president of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. “We started this at the start of COVID.”
Nearly a year in, the Alliance is moving ahead, not only on the hotbed matter of inequities in getting the covid vaccine into the arms of Black seniors, but a plethora of high importance issues. Among them:
Making it easier for Black community residents and business owners to express their opinions to government before all major development projects, procurement and infrastructure transactions are solidiﬁed.
• Promoting economic development that provides tangible beneﬁts to those already living in Black communities to be redeveloped.
• Providing Black businesses with fair access to government contracting opportunities.
• Installing infrastructure in Black communities that is similar in nature to that in wealthy communities.
• Offering training opportunities for Black job seekers to reposition for 21st century jobs with livable wages.
• Establishing a policing approach that enhances police-community relationships in Black communities; eliminating racial bias in policing Black communities; and holding police accountable for misconduct.
The Alliance plans to take a tricounty approach to addressing the concerns, the representatives said.
“This group is different because where there’s an issue in Palm Beach County, we have a common issue, a common constituency … the Black person,” said Brian C. Johnson, president of the Broward County Minority Builders Coalition.
As an example he pointed to inequities in the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program to assist businesses in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t have to tell you that (banks) didn’t prioritize us,” Johnson said. “So many of us missed the ﬁrst round of federal aid just because disparities and discrimination was institutionalized.”
Dale Holness, Broward County commissioner, said the disparities have real consequences, adding: “It is important that we get together to ensure that these inequalities that have existed in our community and nation are dealt with. Racial inequality has affected the growth and development of the United States.”
The Alliance representatives said the organization expects community leaders to care about all constituents and to proactively work in the best interest of those constituents.
The group also emphasized that the Black community in particular has been neglected and poorly served for too long.
For other information visit sofloridablackprosperity.org.