Natalie Jackson, a prominent Florida attorney whose clients include Trayvon Martin’s family, is running to replace Representative Val Demings in Congress next year.
Just days into her campaign for the Orlando-based House seat, Jackson has already garnered endorsements from two powerful civil rights champions: attorney Benjamin Crump and Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother.
In recent years, Jackson has collaborated with Crump on some of the nation’s most high-profile police violence cases, representing the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, according to Florida Politics.
“What we saw with George Floyd, we saw his family get justice in court. But that five minutes of justice didn’t address the entire criminal justice system, nor did it address the economic inequality in Orange county,” Jackson said.
“We need to bring about that type of change. So I feel I can be best suited in the legislature to do that.”
After enlisting in the navy at 18 years old, Jackson won an NROTC scholarship to Hampton University. She then served as a naval intelligence officer among one of the first groups of women deployed on an aircraft carrier, the USS Roosevelt.
Jackson started her legal career at a public defender’s office and now goes by the nickname the “justice gladiator”. But she has also experienced scandal after poor bookkeeping got her temporarily suspended from the Florida bar, issues she blamed on her overwhelming work schedule and stress.
She decided to run for Congress while working for the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police in Columbus, Ohio, trying to deliver his friend Christmas money.
“While I think a lot of people who get into these races, they say they’re excited, I’m really prayerful about it. I feel it’s not something I wanted to do. I feel it’s something I’m called to do,” Jackson said.
The contest to succeed Demings – who’s eyeing a Senate bid to unseat incumbent Marco Rubio – has already attracted other big names in Florida politics, including former state attorney Aramis Ayala and state senator Randolph Bracy.
Florida’s 10th congressional district usually trends Democratic, though it’s unclear how redistricting could affect partisanship going into the election.