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Gillum Carries Duval County, Where Supporters Saw Hope For Overlooked People

Abukar Adan
Zaiche Johnson, a local artist and activist, rallies the crowd at Tuesday night's campaign party for Gillum at Austin’s Soul Food Restaurant in Jacksonville. ";

Ron Desantis has narrowly defeated Andrew Gillum to become the next governor of Florida. 

One of the counties that Gillum carried was Duval, with more than 51 percent of votes cast.

More than a hundred people gathered at Austin’s Soul Food Restaurant in Jacksonville's Springfield neighborhood for Gillum.

Two massive murals of Gillum, who made history in August when he became Florida’s first black nominee, were painted on both sides of the restaurant.

Related: Statewide and County-by-County Returns

Jacksonville was a key factor in Gillum’s primary upset over Gwen Graham and Austin’s Soul Food owner Lisa Austin said that’s partly because he tapped into an often overlooked community.

“Who is for us? Who takes on the healthcare issues? Who takes on the job, employment opportunities? And the increase of salaries and wages,” she asked. “He is for what I believe in and he brings hope to my community.”

Austin, who hosted the campaign party, said there are few things more important to her than getting her community to engage in the political process.

“There're a lot of children - and even adults in the community - who are unaware of how important it is to vote,” she said. “So when New Florida reached out to me, I grasped that opportunity because it is important.”

New Florida Majority is an independent organization that aims to increase the voting and political engagement of marginalized communities.

Zaiche Johnson, who has worked closely with the New Florida Majority curated the murals. He says he tapped  local artist Maiya Elaine, who pulled it together in three days. The mural captures themes of Florida, but also attempted to honor Gillum.

“We attempted to depict Mayor Gillum in a very progressive light, as far as a black intellectual that exceeds being a politician,” he said.  

New Florida Majority organized heavily in Duval to try to increase voting and political engagement among marginalized communities. 

Democrats cast nearly 6,000 more ballots in the county than Republican, as of Tuesday night. 

The mostly African-American crowed waited eagerly for the final results.  (Click here for the results).

Abukar Adan is a former WJCT reporter who left the station for other pursuits in August 2019.