Hawthorne’s ‘Game Plan’

Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce Executive Director George Hawthorne said he is not concerned with—and does not feel threatened by—the recent moves made by a city councilman to start another black chamber.

“If they want to have a social club, let them have a social club,” Hawthorne said this afternoon.

Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds has claimed that the GCAACC doesn’t adequately  serve the local black community, and aims to launch another chamber. Hawthorne said last month that his organization was undergoing changes, but securely intact; the chamber head has since been out of touch—“I was out of town”—but did return a call today.

“By June everything will be very apparent,” Hawthorne reported.

Hawthorne said that he would be elaborating on the GCAACC’s board of directors and what direction the organization will be taking next week.

“Tuesday at the latest,” he said, explaining that the principals had never taken an announced retreat to draw up their roadmap—“not physically, we just dialogued together.”

Hawthorne explained that the GCAACC would have seven board members for the time being, have the same governance structure as the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and also work closely with that organization. He said the group had a “full game plan” which would be announced next week.

Last night, Pensacola Voice Editor Jackie Miles accompanied Jerralds to a second meeting the councilman had scheduled to discuss a new chamber. Miles said she was a board member of the GCAACC and that the group had not met since November of last year. Hawthorne said that Miles was no longer with his group and that she should concentrate on “producing a newspaper without misspelled words.”

“Jackie doesn’t have the intellect and the nuance of understanding,” he said. “—we’ll see the intellectual capacity of our group and their group.”

Hawthorne also criticized Jerralds, accusing the councilman of playing politics during an election year—“maybe he can score some votes.” The GCAACC head, in short, expressed contempt for Jerralds’ direction and said he would unveil his own group’s game plan next week.

“Talk is cheap,” Hawthorne said. “It takes money to buy whiskey.”