Gulf Coast African-American Chamber down to one member?

March 28, 2012

Ok, let’s just say it. There is no Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce. There is a Florida corporation, but it appears to only have one member– George Hawthorne.

Hawthorne will not, can not, produce a list of board of directors- even though the organization’s bylaws state it must have a minimum of seven members. When Councilman John Jerralds challenged him, no business owners came forward to say they were part of the chamber or its board. We can’t get minutes or financial reports from the chamber.

At one time. Gulf Power’s Bentina Terry, Mike Hicks of Hixardt and Rodney Jackson of Coastal Bank were all board members. They have all moved on, which leaves the questions: When was the last time the chamber had an election? Who elected Hawthorne its president?

Being a president of the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce gives Hawthorne an ex-offico seat on the Pensacola Chamber board. He has made oral reports to the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce at its monthly board meetings, but those reports are more on his Diversity Program Advisors, his Gulf Coast Contractors Academy, Inc. or his efforts on the EBO program at the Maritime Park. The Pensacola City Council appropriated $10,000 for the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber in its current budget, but Hawthorne hasn’t applied for the money. To get it, he will have to provide the city financials and a budget.

If there is no GCAACC, then Hawthorne needs to give up that the chamber’s seat on the Pensacola Chamber board.

Hawthorne has told our reporter that he is reorganizing, but will that organization be valid? Will it truly represent the local African-American business community or will be just a string businesses either owned by or tied to Hawthorne.

Transparency will be the key.

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  • John Thomas April 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I was cut off before I could finish my comment.
    Rick, the question and story you should be asking is “How many African American business owners are in the PCofC?, Have they approached any business owners who aren’t white?, Has there ever been a non white member?
    I have been to a number of the PCofC functions and have NEVER seen any members who aren’t white.
    It’s like the “Good ole whiteboy network” is alive and well in Pensacola.
    Lastly, ask Mr. Hawthorne about the death threats he and his wife have gotten.

  • John Thomas April 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I find it interesting that Rick likes to go on the attack of respected African American businesspersons.
    I personally know Mr. Hawthorne, I also know you Rick but I am using a false name so you will never know who this is.
    I know for a fact that you and the “Independent” Sun have plagerized article written by others.
    Mr. Hawthorne was simply using a template from another program as a model for his programs that you blogged about a year ago.
    As for the GCAACC

    • Rick Outzen April 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      I’m not attacking anyone. The African-American community is who has asked about the validity of the GCAACC. We have asked for his board, members and his financials. Common info that other chambers have little difficulty providing.

      But attacking the media for asking questions is an old trick. I particularly enjoy the plagerism charge and how you compliment GH’s use of others’ templates–an issue with his family resources center.

      Our request is simple. It will not go away.

      Trying to portray George as a victim, martyr or the reincarnation of Dr. King will not make the inquiries disappear.

  • joe March 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    What’s wrong with getting information from books?

    Many are historical references. If one really looks hard at MLK Jr’s speeches, a suspected plagarist, he often told black people to get busy and help themselves. And what we now have is affirmative action and an entitlement society. Thanks, democrat party.

  • chip chism March 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

    @eric…whoa buddy you just got tagged!!! the ref is getting to 8 so you better get up and fight back….@mr. hawthorne: in your jab at eric you listed 8 names….certainly you can list one other member of your organization….

  • Robert Kelley March 31, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I’ve never seen so many quotation marks on one page.

  • George Hawthorne March 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm


    That quote more appropriately applies to you and the subject of your last post.

    MLK, Andy Young and the SCLC Civil Rights movement was the MOST inclusive civil change “model” that has occurred in the history of America. The SCLC had many white Protestant and Jewish individuals as part of the SCLC’s senior leadership and they played a major role in the strategic planning of the “movement.”

    I was told this in many of my personal discussions, meeting, conversations and mentoring sessions with Andy Young, Rev. James Orange, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Dr. C.T. Vivian, Zenona Clayton, Congressman John Lewis and other key leaders of the SCLC civil rights movement that were part of the strategic planning and implementation of the “movement” and a part of the “inner circle” of leaders.

    Unlike you, I didn’t read this in a book; see it on some TV documentary and/or speculate on how this movement occurred. I heard it directly from the individuals that DID it when I asked them how they DID it!

    Also, the your quote was attributed to not only Abraham Lincoln, but also, Samuel Johnson and Mark Twain. However, the quote is clearly derived from a much earlier quote found in Proverbs 17:28 in the Míshlê Shlomoh in the Tanakh.

  • eric March 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Referencing Andrew Young and MLK Jr.?? …not necessarily models of inclusion are they? The more Mr. H. attempts to defend or explain the more the old adage seems appropriate.. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”. ==> Many attribute it to Abraham Lincoln and others say it was originally said much earlier.

  • helpmehere March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    give this guy a friggin Oscar for best performance in a comedy. Let the GCAAC die a peaceful death (although I think it is already dead) and expand the minority business effort at the PBACOC. Next let the PBACOC assume responsibility for economic development efforts of that other malfunctioning body – Team Santa Rosa. This ain’t rocket science folks. Put your dollars to use in more productive ways than administrative overhead associated with the operation of 3 separate organizations. Is it really that complicated?

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