JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In honor of Black History Month, we are profiling history makers from right here in our area. Mayor Alvin Brown broke political barriers in Jacksonville, becoming the city's first black mayor.
Just about 18 months after being elected into the office, Mayor Brown says he is comfortable in the role. However, he says race wasn't the issue during the election.
"It's interesting," Mayor Brown said. "Race didn't come up in the race and I think people really judged me on the content of my character, on my vision for the city."
A vision of hard work focused him from a young age.
"I'm very fortunate and blessed I was raised by two strong women, my mother and grandmother, who still give me a sense of faith and hard work. They didn't go to college, so I'm the first in my family to go to college and I always wanted to be somebody. I knew that."
Mayor Brown earned a bachelor's and a masters from Edward Waters College and Jacksonville University. He worked his way up, through school and on the job.
"I got my start working for Winn-Dixie and I started on a grocery truck and then, eventually, was able to go into a grocery store."
His first poliical job was working for Senator Bill Nelson when he was a congressman and calls him a mentor.
"Bill Nelson gave me my start. But also, looking at some great leaders around the country, in the private sector, Earl Gray is a black enterprise. You know, Ambassador Andrew Young. Coretta Scott King who I had the opportunity to work with on the board, brought here here to Jacksonville. Obviously, President Clinton who is you know, my hero, when it comes to public policy."
Mayor Brown eventually brought his policy views to Jacksonville and he's already looking ahead to reelection.
"After eight years, I want to make sure everybody knows in the world that we are open for business and Jacksonville is a destination. We have more people living downtown, working downtown, we've gotten retirement reform done. The city is thriving."
So what does Black History Month mean to this local history maker?
"Well, I think what it means to me and all of Jacksonville is there is a rich history in our city when you really think about it. A. Philip Randolph, who has ties to Jacksonville, James Weldon Johnson has ties here, Clara White mission who fought for hunger and poverty. It means a lot and it impacts the whole city; we should celebrate it."