JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When Donte Palmer posted an Instagram photo showing him squatting on a restroom floor so he could change his son’s diaper, he had no idea it would go viral, much less spark a national movement.
More than a year later, the post tagged with #SquatForChange has given Palmer a platform to address a problem that affects fathers nationwide: the lack of changing tables available in men’s public restrooms.
On Saturday evening, his work behind the campaign earned Palmer a win at the inaugural Jacksonville Image Awards, a first-of-its-kind awards show that celebrates pioneers in the African American community.
Palmer, who could not make it to the event, took home the “Be The Change, Be Yourself” award, which recognizes those who overcome immense odds to affect change in their communities.
Besides Palmer, six other individuals were recognized for their outstanding efforts to make the world around them a better place.
That includes Taylor Richardson, a 10th grade student and aspiring astronaut who goes by the name Astronaut StarBright. This young philanthropist has raised $200,000 for various causes. Richardson earned the “One To Watch” award, which honors those who make impacts in their respective fields.
Among the other winners was Patricia Sams, a community leader who has served on the Black Expo Board and is involved with the United Way of Northeast Florida, who collected the “Trailblazer” award for inspiring others to follow her path to greatness with innovative ideas that challenge the status quo.
Moses Evans, the band director for KIPP Impact Middle School, won the “Music Excellence” award for his efforts leading students and former pupils down the path to success. His accomplishments include helping secure $200,000 in college scholarships for former students and helping students gain admission to the award-winning program at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
Taking home the “Innovator” award was Victor Chrispin, Jr., director of the Black Male Explorer Program at his alma mater, Edward Waters College. Chrispin mentors young men who are considered at-risk. He also founded Yohannas Performance Arts Company, a company that gives people the opportunity to learn different creative arts, including dancing, singing, stepping and acting.
Deborah Mosley Norman, a retired guidance counselor for Duval County Public Schools, was the first recipient of the “Education Excellence” award. During her tenure, she helped secure millions of dollars in scholarships for students at Raines High School, and her distinctions include winning the 2020 DCPS Guidance Counselor of the Year award.
Rounding out the night was Nicole Thomas, who won the Pinnacle Award, which recognizes individuals who have not only achieved amazing professional accomplishments throughout their careers, but also serve as role models for others. Thomas, the president of Baptist Medical Center South, is one of only a handful of African American hospital presidents in the nation. She won the award over Cleve Warren, the chief investment officer for Florida State College at Jacksonville, and James Day, a retired educator and coach who heads up the annual Bob Hayes Invitational Track Meet.