JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The black vote is expected to be extremely important this election cycle, especially now that all eyes across the country are on Florida and Georgia, two states in which voters could potentially make history by electing the states' first black governors.
Barbershops are the one place in America where people openly talk about politics. At one Jacksonville barbershop owned by an Africa-American, the barbers and their customers are voicing their hopes and concerns about the upcoming election.
At Cutz Linez and Trimz barbershop, conversations about Georgia Bulldogs football have taken a back seat to talks about Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Owner Cedrick Turner said many of his African-American customers are both excited and concerned about the election.
“I think it’s very important because we’re in a time and age now where we need a lot of change," he said.
Barber Renita Turner said customers hope their concerns will be heard this upcoming election.
"Just black people being heard and what our real issues are in our community and knowing that they hear them and respond," Renita Turner said.
Those concerns include curbing the level of black-on-black crime by investing in programs that prevent children from turning to a life of crime.
“Not to take the blame off of the things they do and the things that happen in our community, but if we can just invest in our kids early on, we can catch some of these issues before they get older," Renita Turner said.
Voters could potentially make history by electing Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Jacksonville resident Gerald Thaxton said if Gillum and Abrams are elected, it could affect the 2020 presidential election.
"It could be governed better in terms of dealing with voter fraud and different issues," Thaxton said.
Barber Ben Holmes said he’s all in on Gillum, and not because he’s black.
"To me, he’s more polished. He carries himself very respectfully, and he sticks to the facts," Holmes said.
But there is a harsh reality among African-Americans who may be hesitant about voting.
"They might go out to the polls and vote for the politicians but they don’t see the results, or it never comes to the area of where they needed it the most," Cedrick Turner said. "So it’s kind of discouraging to some people in this area because they don’t see the results.”
People at the barbershop told News4Jax that, given what they feel is at stake in this election, there is actually more enthusiasm among black voters.
Florida progressive organizations, such as Black Voters Matters and Puerto Rican Voter Project, will be holding a "Get Out the Vote" rally Saturday at Edwards Waters College and Lechonera El Coqui restaurant. It starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 1:30 p.m.