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Local Black leaders encourage a deeper conversation about race and politics

Posted at 9:47 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 22:59:22-04

FORT MYERS, Fla — "It's one of the most special things I've ever accomplished in my life."

Byron Donalds is now reflecting on his recent win of the Republican nomination for House seat 19.

"I'm just excited for what the next steps are."

His primary win in Tuesday's election is historic, as it makes him one of few Black congressional nominees for the Southwest Florida area on any major ticket.

Donalds tells FOX 4 it's proof of how far our country has come.

"What most people don't know is that 100 years ago thereabouts there were the Ocoee riots in Orlando where a black man just trying to go vote was taken out of his house."

In more recent times, Donalds has experienced outrage about his own political efforts.

Two weeks ago, some of his campaign signs and those of then-House candidate Drew Montez Clark were defaced in Naples. Both men are black.

"I was really disappointed, it hurt to be honest because the one thing I know (the) character of the people here in Southwest Florida."

So, what's next? Donalds says there's work to be done, and that includes changing narratives that surround black people, and their political affiliations.

"We have many people in the black community who have different political thoughts, different religious thoughts, different family thoughts, different thoughts on music," he says.

Vincent Keeys, president of the Collier County NAACP, agrees.

"Black people come in all shapes and sizes and they are Democrats and Republicans."

Keeys says recent criticism and questions Democratic Vice President nominee Kamala Harris' race proves that negative narratives of color still exist, and influence the perspectives of many.

"Kamala Harris doesn't have a problem, I don't have a problem, we leave those people who have the questions with the problem," Keeys tells FOX 4.

Both Keeys and Donalds agree that changing those perspectives will happen as a community and national efforts of unity continue. Donalds adds it will also include teaching our country's future about the past.

"I think it is making sure that young people have ability to actually learn from history."