Janet Reno's death from Parkinson's disease early today has left many African-Americans saddened. She stood up for us when no else would.
At the height of 2 Live Crew's fame, every law enforcement official in the state wanted to throw our asses in jail. Reno was the only state prosecutor who didn't come after us for singing explicit lyrics. In fact, she defended our First Amendment right to be as nasty as we wanted to be.
When I formed the Liberty City Optimist Club, Reno was the first person to make a donation to the youth program.
In 1989, I wrote and produced a song about Reno going after deadbeat dads. Performed by my niece and her rap group Anquette, “Janet Reno” was a big hit with single black moms from Overtown to Opa-locka.
Black dads knew if they didn't pay their child support, Reno would throw them in jail. And she had zero tolerance for indiscriminate killing. If you murdered an innocent person, you were getting life in prison. Reno knew how to deal with the problems in the African-American community.
As a result, she was the only white lady who commanded the full respect of black Miami. At the annual Martin Luther King Jr. parades, Reno would get more cheers than the Florida A&M University marching band. She didn't need politicians and pastors to endorse her.
People may have disagreed with her, but they respected her. As the Miami-Dade County state attorney and the first woman U.S. attorney general, Reno handled her high-profile jobs with professionalism. She never allowed politics to dictate her decisions.
Reno was a true Florida icon.
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