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Biden to award Medal of Freedom to Biles, McCain, Giffords

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FILE - Simone Biles, of the United States, poses wearing her bronze medal from balance beam competition during artistic gymnastics at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. President Joe Biden will present the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people, at the White House next week. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will present the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the U.S. Senate.

Biden will also recognize Sandra Lindsay, the New York City nurse who rolled up her sleeve on live television in December 2020 to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose that was pumped into an arm in the United States, the White House announced Friday.

Biden’s honors list, which the White House shared first with The Associated Press, includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy.

The Democratic president will present the medals at the White House next week.

Biden himself is a medal recipient. President Barack Obama honored Biden’s public service as a longtime U.S. senator and vice president by awarding him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2017, a week before they left office.

The honorees who’ll receive medals from Biden “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come,” the White House said.

The honor is reserved for people who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values or security of the United States, world peace or other significant societal public or private endeavors, the White House said.

Biles is the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, winning 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is an outspoken advocate on issues that are very personal to her, including athletes’ mental health, children in foster care and sexual assault victims.

Lindsay became an advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations after receiving the first dose in the U.S.

McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018, spent more than five years in captivity in Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Navy. He later represented Arizona in both houses of Congress and was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Biden said McCain was a “dear friend” and “a hero.”

Washington is a double Oscar-winning actor, director and producer. He also has a Tony award, two Golden Globes and the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a longtime spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The other 13 medal recipients are:

— Sister Simone Campbell. Campbell is a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She is an advocate for economic justice, overhauling the U.S. immigration system and health care policy.

— Julieta Garcia. A former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, Garcia was the first Latina to become a college president, the White House said. She was named one of the nation’s best college presidents by Time magazine.

Gabrielle Giffords. A former U.S. House member from Arizona, the Democrat founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She was shot in the head in January 2011 during a constituent event in Tucson and was gravely wounded.

— Fred Gray. Gray was one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature after Reconstruction. He was a prominent civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr.

— Steve Jobs. Jobs was the co-founder, chief executive and chair of Apple Inc. He died in 2011.

— Father Alexander Karloutsos. Karloutsos is the assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America. The White House said Karloutsos has counseled several U.S. presidents.

Khizr Khan. An immigrant from Pakistan, Khan’s Army officer son was killed in Iraq. Khan gained national prominence, and became a target of Donald Trump’s wrath, after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

— Diane Nash. A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Nash organized some of the most important 20th century civil rights campaigns and worked with King.

Megan Rapinoe. The Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup soccer champion captains the OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights who has appeared at Biden’s White House.

Rapinoe, who was at training camp in Denver when the White House called to inform her of the honor, thought she was getting a prank or robocall when she saw her phone say “White House,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. She showed her phone to a teammate, who encouraged her to answer the call.

— Alan Simpson. The retired U.S. senator from Wyoming served with Biden and has been a prominent advocate for campaign finance reform, responsible governance and marriage equality.

— Richard Trumka. Trumka had been president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade at the time of his August 2021 death. He was a past president of the United Mine Workers.

— Wilma Vaught. A brigadier general, Vaught is one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history, breaking gender barriers as she has risen through the ranks. When Vaught retired in 1985, she was one of only seven female generals in the Armed Forces.

— Raúl Yzaguirre. A civil rights advocate, Yzaguirre was president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic under Obama.

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Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:

  • Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
  • Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
  • Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
  • Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”

In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.

“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”

In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.

“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.

Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”

The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.

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VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.

Hart’s Twitter Statement:

Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”

During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.

Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

 

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Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House

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Former State Representative Bruce Antone respond to questions by CFABJ, NAACP, and the Florida Voters League panel during a candidates forum in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.

During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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