Escambia County News Pensacola Politics

Hawthorne: An Olive Branch or Baseball Bat?

March 21, 2012

He knows he’s going to speak before the Pensacola City Council tomorrow. He’s just not sure exactly what he’ll say.

“I have an olive branch in my left hand, I have a baseball bat in my right—I haven’t decided which one I’m going to use,” said Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce Chairman George Hawthorne. “Which one am I going to use for Mr. Jerralds? It’s that simple.”

Last week, Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds held a meeting to discuss the viability of the GCAACC and what direction the organization should be taking. Hawthorne—who Jerralds threw out of the meeting in short order—intends to address the councilman’s actions during tomorrow’s council meeting.

“I’m going to pray on it this evening,” Hawthorne said.

The local African-American chamber’s chairman said that the recent events are indicative of varying strains of thought within the black business community. He said he represents the strain stressing “inclusion,” while Jerralds preferred the “segregation” strain.

“This is an epic discussion and fork in the road for Pensacola,” Hawthorne said.

According to Hawthorne, the councilman is operating under a “notion that everybody is racist.”  As opposed to working jointly with the white business community, the chairman said that he thinks Jerralds would transform the chamber into a more fractious body.

“You know, a march-down-Palafox-Street type of organization,” he said.

Hawthorne also responded to Jerralds’ accusations that the GCAACC does not adequately represent the area’s black-owned businesses and was not a regularly functioning body.

“We fluctuate between 20 and 200 members,” Hawthorne said, adding that the chamber’s board of directors had not met “this quarter,” but would be meeting in July.
The chairman did not provide further information about who sits on the GCAACC’s board. He said he would need to check with board members prior to revealing such information.

Hawthorne also spoke about his desire to shift the chamber to a privately-funded model.  Under such a model, the chamber would not receive any funding from the city of Pensacola or Escambia County.

But tomorrow, Hawthorne will primarily be addressing Jerralds March 16 meeting. The GCAACC chairman believes his rights were violated when the councilman called police officers to remove him from the room. He also wants to hear from city officials about Jerralds holding the meeting at city hall, tossing him from the meeting while invoking his position as a councilman, while also framing the issue as “not city business.”

“If, in fact, there is not a redress of the issues, then I’d have to get a legal ruling,” Hawthorne said. “I have got to react to that. As usual, John Jerralds did not think this through.”

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  • Teresa March 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Cal and Eric,

    Google his name and you be able to figure it out. While your there, google the past business he was in charge of. All your questions will be answered and red flags confirmed.

  • jeeperman March 22, 2012 at 8:55 am

    The membership fluctuates between 20 and 200 members.
    That is worse than meeting attendence flux.
    Keep in minf CoC’s are clubs. private clubs. They are not government agencies.
    No different then the Jaycee’s, Lions, Rotary, etc.
    So if yet another group wants to start yet another CoC, anyone can do so.

    Go to and you will find GCAACC registration:

  • eric March 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Personally, I think Mr., never hear any stance on anything, Jerralds attack on Mr. Hawthorne is wrong,though there are all kinds of red flags flying around Mr. Hawthorne. The going concern of an organzation that has such a variance of between 20 – 200 meeting attendance is merely one. Several other failed efforts to have taxpayer dollar fund his “ideas” also exist. He landed a good one gig in his minority contractor representation re: maritime baseball park academy, whatever it is called. Someone said it better than I on this blog questioning why is there a need for separate chambers in the first place? Should there be a White Chamber of commerce, an Iranian chamber of commerce, Indian, etc.. Are the members of the African American chamber African or American? Are they what they need to be to get funding? Neither Mr. Jerralds nor Mr. Hawthorne is doing a very good job of representing the interests of black escambia county residents which is what both are attempting to do. I can think of a couple of black, well-respected attorneys who give a lot to this community, a few other businessmen as well and I wonder where they stand on this squabble because both H and J are looking bad. I’d like ringside seats at belmont and devillers but to hear some jazz and blues not to see Hawthorne and Jerralds see who can out-dumb the other.

  • Cal Robinson March 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm


    I agree, he should take the high road. Right now he looks good and Councilman Jerralds looks like the idiot. Don’t switch places.

    I am curious, though, why the GCAACC is registered in Georgia rather than in Florida. I could understand it being registered in either Mississippi or Alabama since those states are also on the gulf coast, but Georgia makes no sense.

  • Teresa March 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Mr. Hawthorn
    My suggestion…Take the high road….If the facts are in your corner, Jerrald’s will end up hitting himself with the bat. Remember this works both ways.
    I’d let the temper tantrums that I feel both of you are displaying on the playground. If you have a better plan people will respond. You two arguing is a wast of everyone’s time.