FLY —Online Discussion Forum
We have put together a group of distinguished national and local community members to start our discussions about each show.
FST expresses our immense gratitude to our writers for their intellectual, emotional, and thought-provoking contributions.
The Honorable Judge Charles Williams, Circuit Court Judge, Sarasota, Fl, Civil Division
Judge Charles E. Williams was born in Durham, North Carolina and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. He graduated from Howard University and the University Of Florida College Of Law. After a career in the State Attorney and Public Defender’s Offices he went into local private law practice. He was later appointed to be a Circuit Court Judge by Governor Lawton Chiles. He has served on numerous Committees and Boards but he is most proud of his work and partnerships with the Palmetto Youth Center, the Booker High School Law Academy, Florida Studio Theatre and the Sarasota County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.
Each summer the Diversity Committee provides opportunities for minority law students to work locally in law firms and government agencies. The goal of this committee is to encourage these students to return to practice law in this community so that the local legal profession will become more inclusive. In addition to their summer salaries, up to $5000 is awarded to each student to go towards their law school tuition when their summer employment has concluded. This past summer four law students took part in the program and to date close to $100,000 has been awarded toward tuition for these scholars since the program was started in 2007. Judge Williams also writes, directs, and produces documentary films. His film “Through The Tunnel” won Best Historical Documentary at the DocMiami International Film Festival. His most recent film, “The Enduring Beauty of Memory” won Best Documentary Film at the 2014 Movieville Film Festival.
Currently he is working with students from Booker High School and the Sarasota Film Festival Education Outreach program on a film celebrating the Newtown Centennial. This film is scheduled to premiere at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival. Recently he was part of a program at Florida Studio Theatre that brought in over 1700 Sarasota high school students to see the play “Thurgood”, which chronicled the life and times of NAACP Attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The educational outreach of this production included in school discussions of the issues brought up by the play, post play discussions with the actor, a conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning author Gilbert King, and several panel discussions involving members of the Sarasota community that touched on issues of race, class and diversity locally.
Judge Williams has partnered with New College of Florida and the Daughters for Life Foundation to educate women from the Middle East. The scholars are provided full four year scholarships to New College. This year’s class welcomes students from Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Israel. It is hoped these students will become effective advocates for positive change in their home countries. He is the recipient of the Sarasota County Branch NAACP’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the recipient of the 2014 C.L. McKaig Award, in recognition and appreciation of his tireless dedication to promoting the ideals of equality, justice, and professionalism. In February 2015 Judge Williams was elected by his fellow judges to serve as Chief Judge for the 12th Judicial Circuit commencing July 1st, 2015. He credits his parents, both of whom were educators, with instilling in him the obligation to give back to the community and to emphasize the value of education for all people, young and old alike. He is married to Jacquelyn Woods and has two daughters, Charlette and Caitlin.
Ed James III, Political Strategist
Edward James, III is a political strategist and lifelong public servant. He is a 2008 graduate of Pine View School and former President of the Sarasota County NAACP Youth Council. Edward went on to attend the University of Chicago where he was inducted into the school’s honorary society and graduated in 3 years with a degree in political science. Upon graduation from college, Edward worked on the ground in Sarasota County as a field organizer for 10 months to mobilize the get-out-the-vote-efforts on behalf of the 2012 Obama campaign in Florida. For this work Edward was recognized by Biz 941 Magazine as a person to watch in 2012. After coming out victorious nationwide and in Florida in the election, Edward took his talents to Silicon Valley to work with Google’s Legal department. While at Google he represented the company at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference. He worked as Regional Field Director on the successful Gwen Graham for U.S. Congress campaign. He is currently advising several municipal campaigns as a consultant. Very recently Edward coauthored an academic paper entitled, “”Florida’s Second Congressional District: A Blue Dot in a Field of Red” with Dr. Robert E. Crew, Jr. of Florida State University. Edward believes that the #1 key to success is thinking like a champion.
Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize winning Author
Gilbert King is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, which was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Devil in the Grove was also named runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Edgar Award. Lionsgate has purchased the rights to Devil in the Grove and a film is currently in pre-production. He lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and a French Bulldog named Louis.