barbarahowardweb.gifOn Sept. 2, Jennifer Carroll was selected to be the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, who referred to her as “breaking barriers.”

“Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll” has a wonderful ring to it. But it would be just another first for this beautiful, intelligent, articulate woman.  She is black, conservative, Christian and Republican.

In April, 2003, she was the first black Republican elected to the Florida House of Representatives. Then she was appointed Majority Whip in 2004.  That in itself was no small feat.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Carroll was the first black legal immigrant to be elected to the Florida Legislature.  She served her adopted country more than 20 years, retiring as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy.


She has a master’s in Business Administration, is a successful entrepreneur, wife of a man from a well-respected Miami family and mother of a Miami Dolphin rookie, Nolan Carroll II, named after his dad.

Carroll’s long history of community service is admirable and includes being a lifetime member of the NAACP, the National Rifle Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Jennifer Carroll is absolutely awesome.  After she won her first election, I traveled to Central Florida to meet her.  She had me hanging on her every word, nodding in agreement and clapping as if I were in church on Sunday morning instead of listening to her speak at an organizational meeting.

So when I heard she had been tapped to be potential second-in-command of the State of Florida, I couldn’t stop dancing.  I talked to my black Republican ladies across the state and they were equally excited.


Now we’re waiting for the Democratic PR hit machine to come out slinging mud.  Historically, if they can’t find any dirt, they tend to make it up.  Already one Obama supporter, after hearing her speak on a YouTube video, sent me a message saying she was “not a deep thinker.”  Then a comment by a reader of a Miami Herald article gave a preview of how low-down, dirty and nasty this campaign can get, indicating that Rick Scott should have “just bypassed tapping her for the lieutenant governor’s slot, and just tapped her.”


Déjà vu.

Remember Condoleeza Rice? She was National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under President George W. Bush and instead of being proud as they claim we all should be for successful black politicians, black Democrats called Rice all kinds of ugly names, of which “incompetent” was one of the few you could print or say in polite company.

They even accused her of sleeping with President Bush and said virtually nothing when white liberals created cartoons of her as “Ignorant Mammy.”  Had Republicans said the same things about black Democrats, they would have been called racists.


So we are just preparing for what we know will be an onslaught of ugliness that has become commonplace.

In the meantime, we celebrate Rick Scott for having the courage and the character to select Jennifer Carroll as his running mate.  For the first time, we have the opportunity to elect a black woman to be the lieutenant governor and as the future first black governor of Florida.

As for me and my house, that’s a reason to rejoice.  Jennifer Carroll is young, gifted and black.  She is a virtuous woman and got married before she became a mother – something that seems to be done backwards in our community these days when statistics show that more than 72 percent of black females become mothers before they get married.


I was honored to share the stage with her in 2007.  She was keynote speaker and we both received the Pioneer Award from the National Black Republican Association.

Her list of awards is extensive. Her depth of political experience is unquestioned. She’s been re-elected to the Florida Legislature three times. She has run a successful business for over seven years. She served America for 20 years, working herself up through the ranks from jet mechanic to
lieutenant commander. Her family brought her to the U.S. – legally.  Her community commitment is chronicled and her integrity is beyond reproach.

Jennifer Carroll is living the American Dream and I eagerly anticipate the day when I can call her Lt. Governor Carroll.  May God bless her.

Barbara Howard may be reached at