BY JAMES HARPER
Dr. Eddy Regnier, a clinical psychologist who practices in Sarasota, says Black men and boys are still suffering from “what happened to us during slavery.”
“We were not lazy before slavery but became lazy after slavery,” said Regnier, who also is chair of the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
The council will be having a public forum on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Greater Friendship Baptist Church, 539 George W. Engram Blvd., Daytona Beach.
The purpose of this public forum is to hear from community leaders and the public on the issues and concerns affecting Black men and boys in Daytona Beach. The information will be compiled and passed on to Florida legislators and their staff.
Mission of council
In an exclusive interview with the Daytona Times this week, Regnier said, “Young Black men lead in every negative indicator. There is a relationship that exists between academic failure, dropping out of schools and Black men succeeding.”
The mission of the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys is to research and propose measures that improve conditions affecting Black men and boys.
Florida is committed to engaging, educating, equipping and encouraging all Black men and boys to successfully achieve their full potential,” according to information provided to the Times from the council.
Regnier said the council needs people to go to Greater Friendship to talk about their concerns.
He noted that what they hear and compile in reports have made a difference since the council was first created in 2006.
Regnier cited the passing of the “pants on the ground legislation” and directives to school districts to not suspend students for minor infractions happened because of input from their group.
He said the council has invited law enforcement, including Sheriff Ben Johnson, Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood and Volusia County Superintendent Margaret Smith to attend the forum to educate them as well as learn what they are doing to make a difference in Black males’ lives.
The council travels to five cities across the state every year to discuss the disparities that exist between Black men and boys and others in education, dropout rates and arrest records.
Regnier was disappointed with the reversal of a law under Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that no longer restores rights to felons who are not incarcerated or are under probation or parole.
Making a differnece
Regnier, 62, says he likes making a difference.
“By helping Black people, you help all Americans. The church has led the struggle of freedom of all Black people,” he said, noting that the council likes to partner with churches and local entities to gather their information.
Dr. L. Ronald Durham, pastor of Greater Friendship where the forum will take place, said he and the council are looking forward to city and Volusia County residents’ participant in the forum.
“Given the ongoing struggles faced by the African-American community, and in particular the continued declining opportunities for Black men in America, this forum offers to bring a tremendous awareness to the participants of strategies we can employ to improve our economic, family, and educational situations,” Durham said.
About the council
The agenda will include topics on criminal justice, crime prevention, education, economics, employment and health.
The council has repeatedly stressed the importance of community support in the efforts to raise awareness about the socioeconomic conditions affecting Black men and boys in the state of Florida.
During the 2006 Legislative Session, the Legislature created the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys to be administratively housed within the Office of the Attorney General.
The council was created to and is charged with proposing measures to alleviate and correct the underlying causes of the conditions affecting Black men and boys including homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, drug abuse, death rates, disparate annual income levels and health issues.
The council’s next business meetings will be on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 11 a.m. and Friday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. at the Hilton, 100 North Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach. The purpose of the meetings is to update the council’s bylaws and focus on a 2013 summit. All meetings are open to the public.