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In Black America: How this sheriff’s legacy shines on his Florida community

Sheriff Nathaniel Glover is smiling, in uniform, for a headshot against a light blue background.
Nathaniel Glover
Nathaniel Glover
Glover retired from the Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff’s Office in 2003, after two terms as sheriff and 37 distinguished years of law enforcement service.

The most recent episode of In Black America concludes producer and host John L. Hanson Jr.’s interview with Nathaniel “Nat” Glover, the first Black sheriff of Jacksonville, Florida. Glover previously described his coming of age, including being a victim of Ax Handle Saturday and how it inspired him to work in criminal justice. In this episode, Glover describes the uphill battle he embarked on to become a sheriff and how he continues to give back to the underserved Jacksonville community.

When Glover announced he was running for sheriff, got mixed reactions. Some people were in favor of Glover’s potential promotion. Others told him that he “wasn’t going to do anything but mess up [his] career as a law enforcement officer because the word was clear: Florida did not elect Black.”

Glover defied the odds in 1995, becoming the first Black sheriff of Jacksonville and the first Black sheriff elected in Florida since 1888. During his time in office, he became the city's first hostage negotiator, enacted reforms that —according to residents and police alike— led to a decrease in crime and was praised by then-President Bill Clinton for his work. After 34 years in law enforcement, Glover stepped down as sheriff to serve people in a different way. He was named the 29th president of his alma mater, Edward Waters College.

“[I had] a stellar career in law enforcement. But in that career, I have been putting people in jail. A lot of those people who look like me,” Glover said. “[I was] given an opportunity to go back to my alma mater, and as president, I was able to graduate eight classes. I'm talking eight classes of individuals who mostly look like me. … I think that was the epitome of redemption for me.”

Glover served as the president of the historically Black university from 2010 to 2018 before he retired.

He said he understands the value of a degree and believes that a college education can steer underprivileged Black youth away from crime. The problem he saw was that many Black youth in Florida could not afford a college education. Glover decided to focus on financing scholarships for low-income students in Florida by donating four years of his police pension to his Where They Will Shine scholarship. He also said he plans to put the proceeds of his memoir, Striving for Justice: A Black Sheriff in the Deep South, toward the scholarship fund.

“If you do the right thing for the right reason, with commitment and dedication, and if you prepare and persevere, you can achieve almost anything,” says Glover. “And I think my life is a prime example of that.”

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT at 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 6:30 a.m. Sundays — and weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.
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