When Addie L. Greene launched the Palm Beach County Caucus of Black Elected Officials (PBCBEO) in 2003, there were 27 people of African descent in elective offices countywide. Indeed, Ms. Greene herself was sitting on the County Commission when she created the nonprofit after having served eight years in the State House.
Today, there are 45 African-Americans who have been elected to public office: in 16 of PBC’s 39 cities; on the boards of the Palm Beach County School District and the County Commission; five judges in the county’s 15th Judicial Circuit; and, in the State Legislature, two who represent large, diverse districts across PBC.
And at the Marina Event Center in Riviera Beach today, the newly re-created PBCBEO will swear in nine of them as newly elected board members at it’s first organizational event in years.
And as they gather, they will be the largest group of people of color in the history of PBC to be sitting on all those daises. Moreover, there are a few who are history-making in their own right. Consider that:
- State Senator Bobby Powell (District 30) is the County’s highest-ranking African-American elected official ever and, of the 13 people in Tallahassee who, together, represent all of PBC, he is also the youngest;
- County Commissioner Mack Bernard (District 7) was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2009. In 2016, he became the first Haitian-American to be elected to the County Commission and was also unanimously selected by his fellow Commissioners as County Mayor; and
- Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Bradley Harper is the youngest jurist in the County court system. He is also a descendant of one of PBC’s first documented residents of African descent.
“What we all do—well, they, since I’m no longer in elective office—is critical to the success of our communities,” Ms. Greene said, ticking off programs she’d created, including Paragon Florida, launched in 2006 with $8 million she obtained to help establish minority businesses. “It is also critical that our communities understand the importance of their involvement in our democracy at all levels of government as voting, tax-paying citizens.”
That’s why Ms. Greene says she created the organization: as a platform to work to promote, support and train black leadership, award four-year college scholarships and help the people they represent understand they have vital, informed roles to play too.
And the BEO did much of that. There were some hiccups a couple of years ago that caused the organization to decline but, today, it’s back. Literally.
Ms. Greene, who has also served as a Town Councilwoman and Mayor in Mangonia Park over her public service career, is now the PBCBEO’s registered agent. She’s a bit in the background these days but maintains her laser focus on bringing the Caucus back to its earlier prestige and value.
“Democracy only works when the people and the public servants are informed and involved,” she said. “This organization led the way on that. We’re going to do it again.”
And wonder who all those community leaders are in the picture at top? It was taken at a PBCBEO meeting in South Bay; the exact date is unknown but believed to be some time in 2009-10. Click here for the list of names.
And to see a list of those 45 current elected officials of African descent, click here. To see those currently running for municipal office in the March 12, 2019, municipal elections, click here. Lastly, Visit the PBC Supervisor of Elections office here for any and all voting-related information. It will be historic.