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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

Dr. Ladapo; Reparations; Philip Bennett Walker; Cultural Council; What's Good Wednesday

Office Of The Governor Of Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo as Florida Surgeon General

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new surgeon general for Florida on Tuesday.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo is a Harvard-trained doctor who advocated for an approach to the COVID-19 pandemic that emphasizes protecting individual rights over community-based precautions. The UCLA researcher expressed skepticism of vaccines to end the pandemic, says he would "reject fear" as a public health strategy.

As surgeon general, Ladapo will oversee the state's Department of Health, Florida's lead agency combating the coronavirus pandemic. He replaces Dr. Scott Rivkees, a pediatrician whose last day was Monday.

Ladapo believes too much emphasis has been placed on vaccines to end the pandemic. He's a signatory of a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. It calls for essentially letting the virus just run through the population to establish immunity. The declaration has been condemned by a slew of public health experts as dangerous and lacking a grounding in science.

Guest: Michelle Aquino is a hospitalist at Baptist Health and medical correspondent at Action News Jax.


Reparations for slavery is not a new idea, but today there are increasing calls for government-funded reparations, especially among the 40 million Black Americans whose ancestors endured generations of state-sanctioned enslavement and the legal and de facto discrimination that continued into the Jim Crow era.

In the absensce of federal movement on the issue, some U.S. cities have implemented their own reparation programs. Local leaders say they are pressing Jacksonville city officials to similarly address longstanding inequities.

Guest: Tony Brown of the NAACP 

Philip Bennett Walker

Atlantic Beach-based artist Philip Bennett Walker has been busy with mural projects around town, a new exhibit at Jacksonville International Airport and a shop opening later this week.

Cultural Council

The 45th annual Cultural Council Arts Awards are Thursday evening. The awards honor artists and influencers on the First Coast. For the second year in a row, the awards will be a virtual affair.

Guest: Cultural Council CEO Diana Donovan

What's Good Wednesday

  • PB&J Jax is partnering with Norman Studios to present a special viewing of the classic silent film The Flying Ace to celebrate National Silent Movie Day. The showing will take place next Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. via Zoom. Special hosts present the historic film featuring an all-Black cast from the golden era of this city's heyday as a silent film capital.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off a month-long celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of community events and activations that honor the Latino community's rich history and cultural significance.
  • Eleven nonprofit organizations in Northeast Florida received nearly $600,000 to increase access to mental health services in the latest round of grantmaking from The Partnership for Mental Health, the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund initiative at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida and Baptist Health.

First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Associate Producer Katherine Hobbs can be reached at or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.