May 17, 2012
Dear Supporters of the GCAACC,
Over the last few weeks and months there has been much debate, speculation and consternation in the “community” regarding the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has become the target of political “grandstanding” fueled by many misrepresentations and negative characterizations of me and my leadership of the Chamber by various members of the community.
It must always be remembered that the center of this debate should always be the GCAACC’s Mission of increasing economic development, economic parity and the “inclusion” of minority businesses in the prosperity and commerce of Pensacola. This most important mission should always be the basis of the strategic goals and the operating philosophies of the GCAACC. This fundamental mission should never be overshadowed by personalities, personal agendas and/or political “folly.”
In recent days, it has become clearly apparent to me that I have become the “focus” of controversy and a target for individuals who have attempted to take the “focus” from the Chamber’s mission of economic development, economic parity and “inclusion” for minority businesses. There have been misguided assaults upon some the most important “fibers of my being” … my credibility and my integrity. My Integrity and credibility are at the “core” of my personal being and the most important attributes that I want to portray to my family and the world.
The GCAACC’s most important mission of assisting minority business should never be overshadowed by personalities or persons that distort the GCAACC aforementioned mission… including me. The GCAACC’s mission should never be distracted, discredited and/ or used as a “tool” for any individual’s personal gain and/or personal agendas … including mine.
However, there has been much negative speculation, many false rumors and many factual misrepresentations in the press and in the community as to my actions, intentions and agenda as the Chairman of the GCAACC. There have been baseless accusations and ridiculous innuendos regarding my actions and motivations as Chairman and the leadership that I have tirelessly volunteered to the Chamber … a volunteer helping to increase the opportunities for African American businesses in Pensacola. I have never made a dime from the Chamber. In fact, I have donated thousands of dollars of my personal money and volunteered thousands of hours of my time to help sustain the Chamber … at times at personal risk to myself and family. For this, I apologize to my loving and supportive wife.
As I earlier stated … the GCAACC’s fundamental mission of increasing economic development, economic parity and greater “inclusion” of minority businesses in the prosperity and commerce of Pensacola should NEVER be overshadowed by personalities, personal agendas and/or political “folly.”
Accordingly, since I have clearly become a source of distraction from the Chamber’s most important mission … I am going to do what a “real” leader should do. I am going to remove myself as a source of distraction from the Chamber’s mission and I hereby resign as Chairman and a member of the GCAACC.
This will once and for all remove the ability of detractors to say I am using the GCAACC for my personal gain and personal status and end speculation as to my actions, intentions and agenda as GCAACC Chairman and once again turn the attention to the Chamber’s mission of increasing African-American economic development and community prosperity.
I am going to continue my personal mission for economic inclusion and economic parity through my personal businesses and as a crusader for economic justice for ALL small businesses. I am going to support the efforts of progressive organizations that share my vision for economic inclusion and community development, like the Greater Pensacola Chamber. I will continue to assist people, projects and initiatives that are rooted in a philosophy of diverse inclusion and cooperative relationships.
I am going to open the door for new leadership to forge on with the GCAACC’s fundamental mission under the direction of new leadership … as elected by the GCAACC’s members. My sincere hope is that sober-minded, “visionary “and courageous leadership will emerge to sustain and grow the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.
It is my hope that the “vision” of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce will remain a beacon for African-American owned businesses and other small and minority business enterprises creating economic development, business growth and wealth creation along the Gulf Coast.
It is my sincere desire that the GCAACC’s new leadership will serve as courageous advocates and be a “voice” for the African-American business community and other small businesses, and they will strive to ensure economic parity and they not become political “pawns” for visionless individuals attempting to subvert the “mission” of the Chamber for political gain or personal agendas.
My departure should open the door for new leaders to lead the GCAACC … without my personality and leadership being perceived as standing in the way of the GCAACC’s Mission and thereby giving my detractors an opportunity to discredit the GCAACC. However, there needs to be an orderly transitional to allow this new leadership not to lose the tremendous gains, influence, momentum and relationships developed by the GCAACC under my leadership over the last 2 years.
I thank those who have supported me over these last 2 years … I will always remember and support these people and there good works. I will pray for my detractors and hope that that they allow for visionary and intellectual leadership to move the Chamber ahead without interference and sabotage.
The timing of my departure will be at the discretion of the GCAACC’s new leadership … it can be as soon as I leave this podium or as long as a MAXIMUM of 30 days in order to maintain continuity during this period of transition to new leadership. However, NOW is the time for YOU the community … to take charge and identify new leadership, if, the GCAACC is to remain a relevant community organization.
Thank You for the Opportunity to Serve as the GCAACC Chairman.
George Hawthorne, Chairman