Kelly Frazier attends a memorial service for her father in June 2023.Kelly Frazier attends a memorial service for her father in June 2023.
Kelly Frazier attends a memorial service for her father in June 2023. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

Ben Frazier’s daughter assumes reins of Northside Coalition

Published on August 3, 2023 at 1:54 pm

The daughter of late community activist Ben Frazier has taken the reins of the community group that he founded seven years ago to initially help Northside residents.

Kelly Frazier, already a vice president and board member for the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, took over her father’s position after his death in June.

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The coalition continues to be active since Ben Frazier’s death. Members joined Tuesday’s protest at the Duval County School Board against new state guidelines on how African American history is taught in public schools. Critics including Vice President Kamala Harris say the new standards whitewash Black history with misleading information.

As her father’s illness progressed over the past year, Kelly Frazier said they worked on a plan of succession that was put in place when he lost his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma just over a month ago.

“I am honored. It’s a huge position to take. I knew what I was setting myself up for. As I stated before, I did not know that it was going to be so soon,” Kelly Frazier said. “I thought I would have a little more time to transition and learn a lot more than I already knew. I am a little nervous as well because there’s a lot that this organization has done for the community, and I plan to keep following those footsteps and make sure we do everything that we say we are going to do.”

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Benjamin McVickers Frazier Jr. founded the Northside Coalition in 2016 to improve social, racial and economic justice in the community. The Raines High School alumnus and retired broadcast journalist became a frequent critic at government meetings in recent years. He joined protests for independent review of Jacksonville’s police shootings and led many protests to remove Confederate monuments from city parks.

He was arrested in early 2022 when he tried to attend a news conference by Gov. Ron DeSantis at the state Department of Health facility in Jacksonville, where he decried DeSantis’ stance on COVID-19 measures.

In mid-January, his comments against a large Confederate statue in Springfield Park ended with his second brief arrest, after he refused repeated requests to stop speaking during a public comment period of a City Council meeting. Charges were dropped in both cases.

Frazier died June 24, one day after he had turned 73. A few days later, more than 150 people gathered to remember him at an emotional vigil at James Weldon Johnson Park. His daughter and many members of the Northside Coalition were among an audience in the same park where Frazier would stand and protest Confederate monuments.

Kelly Frazier is a graduate of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with a degree in political science. She has volunteered in programs aimed at teaching life skills to young girls, including work to organize fundraising ideas for community programs, her coalition biography says.

A coalition member since its founding, she also was a board member. She was then voted in as vice president. She works as a flight attendant as she transitions into leading the coalition, well aware of the social, racial or economic injustices that it needs to address now and in the future, she said.

“We are going to continue to focus on the removal of monuments, names and markers, all that glorify the Confederacy and symbolize racism and discrimination,” Kelly Frazier said. “Police transparency and accountability will also remain a top priority as we work towards trying to get that civilian review board so the community can try to get some trust back” into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

They will also continue to fight the state’s Black studies program issues, she said.

Another huge priority: develop “a robust plan” for fundraising so the Northside Coalition can continue its mission, she said.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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