Still Dreaming….

Note: Today is a somber day of reflection and remembrance. 9/11 is seared in the minds of those who lived through it, and we honor those who lost loved ones in the attack. Last night “60 Minutes” devoted the entire show to the Fire Department of New York’s experience during and after 9/11. It’s a touching and important piece of journalism and I wish all Americans would watch. In these divided times, we need to be reminded of what unites us as a nation. The heroism shown by the brave men and women of FDNY will never be forgotten. Nor will the 343 firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others on that awful day. One of them was my childhood friend Mike Boyle, who was off that day, but rushed in to help and was never seen again. I think about Mike often. And I think about that day too. We must never forget.

On August 26, thousands flocked to the National Mall to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The same day, 700 miles away, three Black people were killed in Jacksonville for being Black.

Sometimes irony can be painful. Sometimes it can be lethal.

Angela Carr, 52, was shot dead in her car in the parking lot of a Dollar General Store. A.J. Laguerre, 19, who worked at the store, was shot dead trying to get away from the gunman. Jerrald Gallion, 29, was murdered when he walked into the store unaware of what was happening.

You don’t expect to go to a Dollar General Store and run into a white supremacist wearing a tactical vest with a swastika painted on his rifle. Or maybe we should, based on the frequency of violence we’re experiencing these days…and if that’s so what’s going on here? For goodness sakes, what’s going on?

There are no words that can adequately describe this kind of horror; thoughts and prayers—while welcome—are not enough.

The hate driven murders in Jacksonville—on a day when Americans should have been celebrating MLK’s landmark “I Have A Dream Speech”—brings into stark relief the challenges we face as a nation.

The latest murders are not an aberration.

It comes after 10 Black shoppers were murdered in a Buffalo supermarket in 2022. It follows the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed for the ‘crime’ of jogging through a neighborhood that three assailants believed he had no business being in.

In 2015, 9 Black worshipers were viciously slaughtered at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. And it comes after 11 Jewish worshipers were executed in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Yes, we’ve made progress toward MLK’s dream. We have much to be proud of, but we still have a long way to go. A very, very long way to go.

I believe that we will not get to the promised land unless and until we acknowledge and confront our history and our present.

But in Florida— with culture wars raging over curriculum and what can and cannot be taught—we’re not doing that.

We are not alone. America itself seems stuck in a cycle of recrimination and denial.

We have just experienced the hottest July and the hottest August in history. Every other week, we seem to have a cataclysmic natural disaster that costs lives and billions in damages, yet we argue over whether climate change exists and whether we ought to do something about it.

We argue over whether we have too much regulation or too little but because we have underinvested in just about everything, we are scrambling to catch up and tech bro’s such as Elon Musk begin acting like nation states not entrepreneurs.

Did you know that Musk’s Starlink internet technology is assisting Ukrainian troops in their uphill battle against a murderous dictator who has decided to wipe out a nation? That part is good, but according to an investigative piece in The New Yorker, Musk may or may not be communicating with Vladimir Putin (he denies it, others claim he has told them differently). Regardless, one man can decide with the flick of a switch to change the course of a war. We have ceded this kind of power to private players because we have underinvested in technology, infrastructure, semiconductors, public health, and a whole range of other things.

I’m all for entrepreneurship, capitalism, the free market, and private industry, but because we have willfully neglected the public sphere, we better be prepared that some of these actors may not have the best interests of “we the people” in mind.

“There is only one thing worse than a government monopoly. And that is a private monopoly that the government is dependent on,” says Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican Congressman and former NASA Administrator who is concerned that his former agency is too dependent on SpaceX, the Musk company that has commercialized Starlink.

Like most challenges, the solutions boil down to leadership and whether people commit to a better future.

So, let’s come back to that Dollar General store in Jacksonville and the images of those lost souls who sadly, will soon be forgotten by all but their loved ones.

I do not know what it means to be a Black person in America. But I do have decades of experience as a Jewish person. I have seen and experienced antisemitism and frankly I fear it. Just this past weekend, I watched video of Neo-Nazis chanting vile slogans in front of Disney World. The video made me nauseous.

I understand that hatred—whether racial, religious, cultural, or based on sexual preference or gender—diminishes us. Hatred is violent. It’s dangerous. It threatens our communities, nation, and world.

The task of addressing this level of malevolence is daunting, but we must try. But it’s the subtler forms of prejudice that hurt too. I still remember a young woman who wouldn’t go out with me because her mother did not want her daughter dating a Jew: (we were 14). And I remember being warned by certain “pillars” in my town to stop stirring the pot when I pursued a race relations initiative in Delray back in the day. I got over the girl and we pushed forward with race relations– which was the right thing to do— even if it was a modest effort and didn’t last as we intended….

Obviously, my experiences pale in comparison to being gunned down by a white supremacist. I wrestled with whether I should even share it because there is no equivalency. I can drive anywhere I wish without being stopped or reported. I go through my day blending in. Or at least I think I do. Those images from Orlando give me pause. Still,  I have friends who can never just… be.

The Dream that Dr. King spoke about 60 years ago was of a color-blind society.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

In the aftermath of tragedies like Jacksonville and Buffalo, we must make some sober assessments about where we are as a society.

There’s a sense of foreboding in America these days; a feeling that at any moment something awful can be triggered.

How did we get to this place?

This place where everything from sports and music to elections and science have become so polarized.

How do we find our way toward a more perfect union?

In my admittedly idealistic, somewhat limited view, we must figure out a way to work together again. We cannot solve the challenges of our time, nor seize the opportunities either, unless we work together. We have to empower and elevate voices who understand that even though we have different stories, experiences and world views we do hold some common aspirations, namely a better future for our children and grandchildren.

We must elevate and celebrate decency and we must confront those who seek to divide, destroy and demolish.

And we need to raise up a better caliber of leader.

Recently, Adam Grant, a renowned business school professor at Wharton, put forth an idea to hold a lottery to select our Congress. The article was provocative, and it was borne out of frustration with a body that does little but bicker, bully and brutalize each other. As I write this, the fools on the hill are threatening once again to default on the debt and crash the world economy. It’s shameful. We stand for what we tolerate.

The title of Professor Grant’s guest essay in the New York Times was “The Worst People Run for Office. It’s Time for a Better Way.”

Indeed. It’s past time.

Hatred is not winning. It’s not.

There is still more love in this world than hate. But hate is putting points on the board, it’s gaining ground and bearing down on us.

We need to demand more of our leaders and more of each other.


Odds & Ends

There’s something awfully special about Delray’s Coco Gauff. She has that “it” factor, this feeling that she’s destined for greatness.

Coco took a giant step toward that destiny with a magical U.S. Open which culminated with her first Grand Slam title at the age of 19.

All you can say is wow.

Coco’s game is impressive, she moves beautifully and hits the ball with authority from both wings. But that’s not what’s unusual about her. There are many players who hit hard and can cover the court. What distinguishes Coco is her ability to dig deep at key points in matches. She plays better under pressure and doesn’t seem to be rattled by expectations, crowds, and the weight of playing big matches under the grind of high expectations. She’s poised, charismatic, cool and determined, a champion.

While much has been written about the influence of her excellent new coach Brad Gilbert, don’t underestimate the importance of Coco’s family. Her grandparents Eddie and Yvonne are local heroes. Her parents are terrific too.

While she’s destined for tennis greatness, she’s positive influence off the court. Coco is a leader in a world that craves leadership. She will transcend the game. What a proud moment for Delray Beach and America.

Mardi Gras

We send heartfelt congratulations to Nancy Stewart-Franczak and our friends at Festival Management Group for being chosen to produce downtown West Palm Beach’s inaugural Mardi Gras event set for Feb. 17.

The Mardi Gras will feature a myriad of activities, including live performances and culinary delights inspired by the sounds and flavors of New Orleans. Attendees can expect to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Mardi Gras, complete with flamboyant costumes, lively music, and an electric atmosphere that will ignite the streets of West Palm Beach.

And FMG is the group that can pull this all off. This is the same amazing group that produces Garlic Fest, Delray Affair, Lagoon Fest and more.

I’m a huge fan of Nancy and it has been a joy to watch her grow and thrive in a tough, tough industry. Through it all, Nancy has been a champ. She’s tough, tender, kind and passionate about building community. In other words, my kinda gal! Here’s to many more years of producing fun.




  1. Rosemary Nixon says

    If we have a Congress that “does little but bicker, bully and brutalize each other” it is because the American people have put them there. Ultimately, the American voter and non-voter is responsible for what we have. They have chosen people who just reflect back their own hate, fear and prejudices. There is an old saying: people get the government they deserve.

  2. McCall Credle-Rosenthal says

    Jeff, this is such a moving article. I was at the beach here in Cap Antibes, France, having my favorite Cassis Sorbet, and had to come back to my hotel and thank you for the profound elements. How did we get there? The racism toward people of any color and the anti-semitism are offensive. I am a double whammy. This has not happened suddenly; it is no longer insidious. The difference is that it is now Blatant and a Brand for specific groups. It is part of the chipping away of our Democracy. As you know, I lived in Delray for 22 years and left in mid-May. I loved it there. My neighborhood made me president of the La Hacienda neighborhood for 22 years. It was an all-white neighborhood; I was the only black person owner. It hurt me to my heart that I did not feel safe in Florida any longer. I have always lived and socialized in an environment where I was the only “one, ” which has never bothered me nor my predominately white friends. However, there is a motivation for lack of civility now, and I did not want to be a victim. I always stayed under the radar of who I was as author of the Delray Book, “Images of America- Delray Beach,” subsequently my book continues to sell on Amazon, etc. I did not want people to know that I am Black. When the book was first published, the publisher requested my picture; an article was being written in a newspaper in Boca Raton. I was shocked when I read the article; it stated that it was a Black History Book. The person who wrote that article saw my picture, assumed, and never opened the book. Subsequently, I never wanted people in Delray to know that I was black, plus having my deceased husband’s name Rosenthal helped. I wanted them to purchase my book. This is a Sad Commentary. But this is how it is to be in a Black Body. Jeff, you are politically astute; it is essential to continue to share your knowledge—many thanks to you and Diane.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      My friend,
      Thank you for sharing. Your contributions to our community were enormous and it breaks my heart to know you no longer feel safe in Florida. I do understand, however.
      Until it’s safe to live, volunteer and invest we will not be all we can and need to be.
      We miss you, Jeff.

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