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Sen. Gibson Calls Removal Of Jacksonville Confederate Statue ‘Partial Victory’

Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville)
News Service of Florida
Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville)

Florida Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, called Tuesday’s removal of a Confederate statue in Downtown Jacksonville "symbolic."

Speaking on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, Gibson said it represents a “partial victory,” adding, “and, I guess we should celebrate every partial victory.”

But Gibson said injustices go so much deeper than the statue, like the hundreds of thousands of African American men who the senator said are locked up for nonviolent offenses.

Related: Hemming Park's Confederate Statue In Downtown Jacksonville Removed

“Until we extract racism and bias and injustice from these institutions that we depend on, we’re not yet done,” Gibson said.

The state senator also said the coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on minorities.

The nonpartisan APM Research Lab recently found the overall COVID-19 mortality rate for African Americans is 2.4 times as high as the rate for whites and 2.2 times as high as the rate for Asians and Latinos.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Gibson said health disparities among ethnic groups is a major issue. She’s been working to get more testing sites in minority communities north, south, east and west of the St. Johns River.

Baptist Health family physician Dr. Tra'Chella Johnson Foy joined Gibson on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Tuesday.

“You have about a 30% population that's African American, but then we made up 47% of hospitalizations from COVID-19 and 45% of the deaths from the virus. So this is an astronomical difference," said Johnson Foy.

Gibson pointed out that African Americans – on average – experience more health issues, with higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Johnson Foy said a light needs to be shined on these health disparities.

“How do we make sure that physicians and doctors' offices, who sometimes have these implicit biases when it comes to dealing with minority populations...that they step outside of that and really look at these communities as communities that have a need, that we try to eliminate some of those underlying social structures and systemic issues that exist that drive these disparities in the first place?”

The full discussion, including listener calls, is on Tuesday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.