I’ve worked for Jacksonville Today for only a few months, but I have had a chance to meet and observe some interesting people, places and things.
My focus is on race, inequality and poverty. What I have tried to do is humanize the people who have been affected by policies or have advocated for policy changes at the local, state and federal levels.
One of my high school football coaches used to tell us “the film don’t lie.” I have taken it a step further: The camera adds context.
Sports, politics, policy and people were among the things I captured while on assignment for Jacksonville Today.
Here are 11 of my favorite images from 2022.
Bean’s big day
Aaron Bean became the first person from Nassau County, Florida, elected to Congress on Nov. 8. The longtime state legislator was a heavy favorite to beat L.J. Holloway – and did so by 21 points. But, his biggest moment of elation came when he found out his son, Bradley, was elected mayor of Fernandina Beach.
Cuffed at City Hall
Community activist Ben Frazier was arrested Dec. 13 on charges of trespassing with warning and resisting arrest after his remarks before the City Council. When he was handcuffed, Frazier was still wearing a hospital ID bracelet from a cancer treatment earlier in the day.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs vs. Jackson in June, it sent the decision on abortion back to individual states. Activists flooded Downtown Jacksonville in protest of that decision, which they believe will restrict abortion access in Florida.
As of Dec. 29, the number of abortions in the five-county Northeast Florida region was down 17.5% for the year to 4,572. Statewide, the number of abortions decreased 15.6% to 68,217.
Receiving one’s flowers
Johnnetta Betsch Cole received the love of the audience at the inaugural Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference in August. Cole, 85, has moved back to Northeast Florida after decades as an educator, activist and women’s advocate.
In August, Cole told Jacksonville Today that she “ain’t done.”
“I have not finished,” Cole said. “And so, as long as the good Lord, she is not ready for me yet to go to glory, I am in the struggle.
“I am in the civil rights struggle. I am in the struggle for women’s rights. I am in the struggle for the LGBTQ community as an ally. I am an ally of all communities of color. I am an ally of the disabled community. And now that I have a health challenge that is of some proportion I am even more in support of the rights of the disabled community.”
Core memories at ‘the bank’
Jaguars punter Logan Cooke held up his 11-month-old son during his first football game in September. Cooke spotted his son, Cooper, 75 minutes before kickoff of the team’s home opener and spent a few moments holding him before returning to game preparation.
Through 15 games this season, Cooke, 27, was averaging a career-best 49.8 yards per punt. His 43.6 net average was fifth-best in the NFL.
Ribault quarterback Timothy Cole entered the field with flair at Earl S. Kitchings Stadium in October prior to the Northwest Classic. Cole threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Trojans’ 30-19 loss.
Later, when Cole evaded the Vikings pressure and fired a 42-yard touchdown pass, one Raines fan wondered aloud: “That boy in 9th grade.” The statement was a combination of astonishment and praise.
Cole finished the season with seven passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in seven games.
Cameron Frazier is the executive director of Becoming Collegiate Academy, a school that infuses the culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities into elementary school. When students walk into the Brentwood-based charter school, they pass under a series of pennants from some of the 107 HBCUs in the country.
Out East, in the community
Suzanne Pickett is the president and CEO of the Historic Eastside Community Development Corp. The organization has worked with residents and businesses to develop the Eastside in a way that does not force out the families and residents who have lived Out East for decades.
In June, I was at the U.S. Capitol for an interview with Green Cove Springs native Vince Evans. That day, the Congressional Black Caucus welcomed more than 100 men from across America during National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Frat Days On Capitol Hill so the fraternities could share their perspective on what Congress could do to advance Black America.
After two hours of meetings and tours, these gentlemen gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for a picture. There was only one problem: No one had a camera wide enough to capture everyone.
I volunteered. This image was the result.
Will Williams, operations director for the city of Jacksonville’s Public Works Department, presented Dr. Charles McIntosh with a proclamation from Mayor Lenny Curry that declared Nov. 3 Charles McIntosh Day. McIntosh, now 95, was Jacksonville’s first Black pediatrician.
The Dr. Charles B. McIntosh Community Achievement Center broke ground in Moncrief across from Raines High School in November. It is expected to be finished in 2024.
“We knew that someday, we would like to have a center where young men particularly, but youth generally, could come and participate in programs for the enrichment of their lives,” McIntosh told Jacksonville Today in November. “In today’s time, when African American young men are really committed to the institutions of the jail, too many of our youths’ lives are wasted there. We hope we can prevent some of that here in this institution.”
Two boys, OneJax
The Brown twins, Emmett, right, and Grayson, were among the hundreds of people that gathered at James Weldon Johnson Park in Downtown Jacksonville as part of a unity vigil on Nov. 3. People of all faiths, including a T-ball teammate, were among the crowd that denounced hate.
OneJax organized the event after multiple anti-Semitic displays during Georgia-Florida weekend.