ORLANDO, Fla. – The cry for change and the demand for answers has been loud and clear since George Floyd’s death late last month that ignited protests across the country.
To help really formulate what some of the solutions look like when it comes to addressing racial inequality in America, News 6 assembled a panel of experts to take part in our Real Talk: A Candid Conversation on Race town hall on Friday, June 19.
Before our event takes place, you can read about each of our panelists and their roles in the communities they serve. Then, use the form at the bottom of this story to submit your questions.
Also be sure to go to ClickOrlando.com/Juneteenth from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday to watch a live stream of the discussion and see your questions answered.
University of Central Florida assistant sociology professor Dr. Jonathan Cox
Dr. Jonathan Cox is a race scholar and assistant sociology professor at the University of Central Florida who specializes in racial and ethnic identities and racial ideologies. He earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Maryland. His peer-reviewed articles include, “The Source of a Movement: Making the Case for Social Media as an Informational Source Using Black Lives Matter” and “White Boys Drink, Black Girls Yell… A Racialized and Gendered Analysis of Violent Hazing and the Law.”
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings
When Jerry Demings was sworn in as Orange County mayor in 2018, he became the first black person to be elected to the role. Before that, he was the first black Orlando Police Department chief in 1998 and the first black Orange County sheriff in 2008. He served in the last position for 10 years before making his way out of law enforcement and into politics. As mayor, he oversees a $4.4 billion budget and more than 8,000 employees.
American Academy of Pediatrics spokeswoman Dr. Candice Jones
Dr. Candice Jones practices as a general pediatrician in Orlando who focuses on providing care to underserved children living in areas affected by health inequalities. On top of her role as spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, she’s also championed initiatives to help promote wellness in the community.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon
Orlando Rolon moved to Orlando’s Engelwood neighborhood in 1977 and has called Central Florida home ever since. He started with the Orlando Police Department in 1992 and was sworn in as chief in 2018. During his time in law enforcement, he’s worked alongside elected officials, joined several organizations including the Central Florida Criminal Justice Association and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and served in all four OPD bureaus.
Sen. David Simmons
Sen. David Simmons is a Republican senator representing Volusia and Seminole counties since 2000. He’s known for drafting the state’s Stand Your Ground law, creating legislation to address homelessness and protecting the state’s springs and aquifers. He’s also a past member of the Orlando Citizens Review Committee. He was raised by two public school teachers on a farm in Tennessee and graduated first in his class from Vanderbilt Law School.
Vice president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers Vanessa Skipper
Vanessa Skipper taught English and journalism at Cocoa High School for 11 years and taught for three years at Andrew Jackson Middle School before making the transition to the Brevard Federation of Teachers, where she currently serves as vice president, two years ago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations and a master of arts degree in English language arts education from the University of Central Florida and also serves as the secondary director on the executive cabinet of the Florida Education Association. She was one of six finalists for Brevard Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2015.