ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Community leaders and elected officials descended on Bronze Kingdom for Raise Your Glass Promotions’ UNITY Juneteenth Celebration Saturday. Raise Your Glass Promotions curates high end networking events on and Decades Parties for the predominantly African American business community in Orlando. Its UNITY networking events always feature a panel discussion with community leaders, business leaders and elected officials serving the Central Florida community, providing valuable insights, lessons, and big visions for Central Florida’s future.
Juneteenth Theme: Black Excellence and Freedom
Saturday’s event focused on black excellence and freedom. Juneteenth (short for June 19th) marks the historical day in which black slave soldiers returned to Galveston, Texas from fighting in the Civil War and were told they were free men–two whole years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Saturday’s conversation featured Congresswoman Val Demings, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Mentor Holdings & Investments founder and president Nadine Mentor Williams. Orlando Magic’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Esu Ma’at moderated the dialogue.
The audience boasted special guests as well, including Orlando District 6 Commissioner Bakari Burns, former State Representative Bruce Antone, Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce president Idler Bonhomme, media personality Monica May, comedian, media personality and activist Vince Taylor, and a host of others.
Mentor spoke on the importance of starting the finance conversation early in a child’s life to nurture a wealth mindset. She shared her personal story of how her parents created an environment in which she didn’t feel she could safely discuss money with them. Once she became financial literate and gained her wealth, she increased their exposure to wealth. In 2010, she launched The Greatest Investment, a nonprofit that exposes young girls to different careers to broaden their skill set. As a new mother herself, she is committed to nurturing financial literacy in her family.
The Demingses spoke to the theme of black excellence, with Congresswoman Demings capping the conversation with her announcement that she’s running for US Senate against Marco Rubio and calling for support. She ended with a joke about who would play her and Mayor Demings in the movie about her life: Angela Bassett and Denzel Washington. Both Demings have repeatedly made historical firsts, with Mayor Demings being the Orlando Police Department’s first black police chief, Orange County’s first elected black sheriff and Orange County’s first black mayor. Congresswoman Demings became the Orlando Police Department’s first black woman police chief.
“Today’s a great day,” Taylor gushed to FNN News. “This was an event celebrating black excellence in a venue that’s black owned.” As for Congresswoman Demings’s run for Senate, he wishes her well, but he’ll want to see if she’ll keep her campaign promises.
Commissioner Burns also shared his love for the black excellence, telling FNN News that he enjoyed hearing from “Orange County’s First Couple,” referring to Congresswoman Val Demings and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Raise Your Glass Promotions founder Gigi Moorman took Mayor Demings’s directive to heart. “He talked about the need for us to go beyond being the ‘first’ in things,” she told FNN News. “It’s important for more of us to have a seat at the table.”
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org