The Black Star News interview: Miami Gardens’ Mayor Oliver Gilbert

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Mayor Gilbert, in the middle, shown at a previous Jazz in The Gardens event. Photo: JazzInTheGardens
Vernon Verdree caught up with Miami Gardens (population over 100,000), Florida, Mayor Oliver Gilbert, for a phone interview and they discussed upcoming Jazz In The Gardens 2020.
BSN: Good Morning Mayor Gilbert, how are you, how’s the weather down there?
Gilbert: I’m good, I knew you were going to ask about the weather, all I can say is it’s gold.
BSN: I didn’t know that Miami Gardens is the largest majority Black-populated city in the state of Florida. Here in New York City the saying is “We be Black,” how does that reflect the character of your city?
Gilbert: We are unapologetically Black. A relatively new city created in 2003 when several Black neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County united into one city. We are now 70 to 80 percent Black. We don’t believe we have to be somebody else. We celebrate our Blackness and it shows with events like Jazz In The Gardens.
BSN: You have called Jazz In The Gardens the city’s signature event; elaborate.
Gilbert: Jazz In The Gardens is us. It’s not just Jazz, it’s R&B, it’s Hip-Hop, it’s Gospel. It’s a backyard party, music, food and the people, all together. We wanted to be different from Miami-Dade county. This is us. You can come see us, you can come talk to us and be around us, this is who we are and what we do. 
BSN: Jazz In The Gardens is held during Women’s History Month, talk about The Women’s Impact Luncheon. 
Mayor Gilbert: We have women, all people, men too, from around the country come in and talk, not only about the event, but about the issues that effect us all as a community. It’s a time to come together. We have speakers that inspire women and celebrate women.
BSN: So let’s get right into it, the opening night party, Saturday’s and Sunday’s lineup.
Mayor Gilbert: This year’s opening night party is being hosted by Socialxchange [local up and coming party promoter] at the Hard Rock Stadium. This party is like that living room party where you just have fun, let everything go and enjoy each other’s company.
Mary J Blige, we love Mary, that’s why we keep having her come back. Mary J has this extraordinary way of making you dance and sing along. You know what she is feeling and has experienced. Charlie Wilson, Uncle Charlie, one of the best live performers, SWV, I want to see them, I remember their songs, can’t wait to sing along to them. The Roots and Bilal, The Roots and Uncle Luke, only at Jazz In The Gardens. Nelly, the 20th anniversary of Country Grammar, Gospel with Kirk Franklin, Jazz with Mike Phillips. We will have some local acts, Savannah, Christina Haley Rae, and Deep Fried Funk with Big Dee and his band. Keysha Cole, Stokely from Mint Condition, Mark Felton, H.E.R.
BSN: And my girl, Jill Scott.
Mayor Gilbert: Jill Scott is going to wow the crowd, she is more than what she sounds like. She is that and more, and she will make you feel her. 
BSN: As a proud African American man who is in a position of authority what message of guidance do you have for our Black youth coming up?
Mayor Gilbert: I tell them my story. It’s a story of work, it’s not easy. Yes, I have all this around me now [security guards, chauffeured Suburban SUV], but don’t just see that, see the man who put himself through law school, live your best life, but put in the work. It’s not as easy as you see it on YouTube. Put in the work.
BSN: Mayor Gilbert, thank you for your time, looking forward to being down in Miami Gardens for Jazz In The Gardens.
Gilbert: Thank you, be prepared, be ready to let loose.
Jazz In The Gardens, Miami Garden, Florida, will be hosted from March 14-15, 2020.

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