Jacksonville civil rights groups plan to honor legacy of Ben Frazier by continuing to fight for change

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Organizations that worked closely with Ben Frazier said Monday the work is not done.

Frazier died on Saturday night from a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

The community activist was an inspiration to many people in Jacksonville.

Kimberly Allen with 904Ward said Frazier was fearless and focused on his mission. But there was a side of him not many knew.

“When he’s in front of the camera, he is you know, baritone voice and he is very stern in what he’s saying. But he is a very loving and caring, harmless person, really, who just really loved our city,” said Allen.

She reflected on the last time she saw Frazier. It was at an event with a group of students.

MORE: After years of interviewing Ben Frazier, here’s what I learned about the Jacksonville civil rights activist

“His message to them was this work is serious. You can die. But you’re needed. And you have to be ready to grab the baton when it’s handed to you,” said Allen.

Frazier has passed the baton to a number of people he’s worked with.

From picketing in front of City Hall with “TakeEm Down Jax,” to leading one of the largest protests in Jacksonville’s history in 2020.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will,” said Frazier in an interview with News4Jax when violence erupted after his protest.

Michael Sampson with Jacksonville Community Action Committee said he feels honored to have worked and stood beside Frazier.

“Ben was a friend, mentor. Almost like a father figure,” said Sampson. “He was someone that, you know, understood that you have to be a headlight, not a taillight.”

Sampson said Frazier sacrificed his body in pursuit of justice. Frazier advocated for the removal of Confederate monuments and helped win a redistricting battle with Jacksonville city leaders, all while fighting cancer.

“We lost a hero, a champion. Someone who sacrificed his own body, for others, for love, to fight racism, to fight for better Jacksonville,” said Sampson.

News4JAX asked Sampson and Allen what the city can do to honor Frazier’s life.

“We can best honor him by taking up that mantle and fighting for changes as he would have been,” said Sampson. “He believed in a world without police brutality, and he supported civilian review. He believes in a world without racism, which is why he fought so hard to take down symbols of Confederates.”

“Talk to your city council folks about removing the monument down in Springfield Park. Let’s talk about what it looks like to have economic justice in our community. What does it look like to really have opportunity. What does it look like for Northwest Jacksonville to look like the Southside, Riverside or Avondale,” said Allen. “If you want to honor Mr. Frazier, take a strong look at the policies. Police reform, justice reform and let’s have some serious conversations and actions behind those things.”

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad