Five Questions for: Yolanda Cash Jackson
Government law attorney Yolanda Cash Jackson – a shareholder in Miami’s Becker & Poliakoff – recently made headlines when she succeeded in making Florida the first state to honor an African-American woman in the U.S. Capitol. There, at National Statuary Hall in Washington DC, every state is afforded the privilege of placing a collection of heroes and thanks to a campaign led by Cash Jackson, Florida’s now includes civil rights leader, educator and Bethune-Cookman University founder Mary McLeod Bethune. The Daily Business Review named her “Most Effective Lawyer, 2018” though Cash Jackson has received a slew of such accolades including the Dade County Bar Association’s “Legal Luminary Finalist” and the Children of Inmates League of Superhero’s first non-elected inductee. Cash Jackson sat down with SocialMiami editor Brett Graff and answered and spoke about her work and her philosophy.
What inspired your work on getting the Bethune (see intro) figure in the U.S. Capitol?
We represent Bethune-Cookman University and when they removed confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith the university was excited about that opportunity. And that’s what we do. There were other people submitted – Marjory Stoneman Douglas, for example – and the candidates all went before a committee. The decision was based on advocacy and there had not been an African American in Statuary Hall ever. Every state has a contribution, and Florida will be the first state to have an African American.
What other efforts have you recently led?
To help black farmers get medical marijuana licenses. When voters in the state of Florida selected to allow medical marijuana, there was a process for applicants to get a license – you had to be farming for 30 years. That discriminated against black farmers. There were hurdles to jump, but in the end the Supreme Court has agreed and a certain group of farmers previously discriminated against is eligible. There’s not any notable minority participation in the first licenses that were granted.
What do you hope to see for upcoming year?
We have a record number of African Americans in the Florida legislature — of the 29 legislators, 13 are African American women — I’d like to see that group of folks make an impact of on the policies that benefit their communities.
What would you tell a young lobbyist, starting out?
People have to decide what is important to them, once you get to a place where you’re doing what you ‘ll love, you’ll be successful. For an African American woman: treat yourself as a professional who happens to be a minority rather than a minority who happens to be a professional. It’s standard I set for myself: I enjoy being an effective lobbyist who happens to be a minority rather than a minority lobbyist who happens to be effective.
Let’s go though some local favorites.
Restaurant? Blue Collar, I get the oxtail. Entertainment venue? Broward Center for the Performing Arts, I just saw ‘Hamilton.’ Favorite sports team? Florida Gators, I bleed orange and blue.