Social Justice Game Changer: Dick J. Batchelor

Dick Batchelor
by Dan Savage

Name: Dick J. Batchelor

Game Honored: Orlando Magic vs. Sacramento Kings (1/27/2021)

Background: Dick J. Batchelor is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives with more than 35 years of political experience. He has been named one of “The 50 Most Powerful People” by Orlando Magazine (2004 to 2011), the 2002 “Central Floridian of the Year” (The Orlando Sentinel), the 2002 “Businessman of the Year” (Orlando Business Journal, November 2002) and the 2008 and 2009 “Best Corporate Citizen” (Orlando Magazine).

He is one of the youngest individuals ever to serve in the Florida House of representatives (1974-1982), where he served as chairman of the Auditing Committee, the Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee and the House Energy Committee. He was also chairman of four subcommittees and is the recipient of more than 50 awards for his legislative service. Batchelor is a longtime Orlando resident and received degrees from the University of Central Florida and Valencia Community College.

A concerned and caring neighbor, Batchelor continued his commitment to his community when he left the Florida Legislature in 1982. He currently serves on several boards, including the Florida Children's Hospital Board (Chair), Florida Hospital Foundation Board (Chair), the First Amendment Foundation, the Central Florida Urban League Board of Directors, Florida's Children First and the Florida Tuskegee Airmen Board. Since 1981, he has served as honorary chairman of the "Dick Batchelor Run for the Children," an annual 5-K run that raises funds (over $1,000,000 to date) to treat abused children. In 2010, Dick was awarded The Chiles Advocacy Award presented by United Way of Florida for his "Integrity, Dedication, and Commitment to Improving the Lives of Florida's Children and Families."

Batchelor currently appears weekly as an on-air political analyst for Central Florida News 13, and has served as a regular on-air political analyst for FOX WOFL-TV, WMFE (NPR) radio and WDBO radio (Cox Broadcasting) for a number of years. He has also served as an on-air political analyst for WFTV-TV (ABC Affiliate), WESH-TV (NBC affiliate) as well as WNDB Radio (Daytona Beach) and is frequently interviewed for political analysis and expertise by other television, radio and print journalists.

Fighting for Equality: Batchelor’s knowledge of international affairs has garnered recognition by The White House, including presidential appointments as a delegate to observe elections in South Africa and as a delegate to United Nations Human Rights Commission. He traveled alongside Jesse Jackson and met with President-elect Nelson Mandela following the historic election that marked the end of the apartheid era. In 2000, Batchelor was appointed to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Batchelor traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, where he spent six weeks examining abuses and drafting resolutions to condemn violations made by various countries.

“We drafted and put forward resolutions condemning countries around the world for human right violations, (including) violence against women, trafficking in children, (drafting) boy soldiers, and those kinds of things,” Batchelor said. “Even though I’ve done a number of things locally (including the equal rights amendment and early civil rights work), if we take it to the international arena, being able to write resolutions and debate them, and try to pass resolutions condemning countries who that are whole-sale human rights violators is probably the most impactful because it was in the international arena.”

What’s Next: Batchelor is aiming, under the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration, to once again serve, in some capacity, for an international human rights advocacy group.

“I’d like to be back in that arena where I can have some impact,” Batchelor said.

Locally, he’s continuing to participate in multiple forums and committees focusing on how to improve social justice in Central Florida’s own backyard. For the many corporations that he represents through the Dick Batchelor Management Group, he advocates for a very active recruitment and retaining program for minorities.

“There are ways to be involved and I encourage local businesses that there are things that they can do,” Batchelor said. “Sometimes people look at the big, big, big picture and they’re intimidated about what to do, how to get it done, when it’s really not that complicated at all. It’s a matter of will your company, your organization, your not-for-profit commit to social justice and actively recruit, not discuss, not debate, but set specific milestones to meet where you can look back and just a short order of a few years and say now my corporate leadership team and our board leadership team reflects the makeup of our community?”

Working with the Magic: “I can say that the Orlando Magic using their platform to identify people who are currently engaged, and there are many that are unknown in the community. When people get the chance (to hear their stories), a number of us can hopefully make ourselves available to anyone who reaches out and say ‘yes, we've done it, it can be done, and we can help you do it.’ … There are people out there who have been in the trench for a long time and are willing to get into the trench with any business leader in the community who want to address these issues of social justice,” Bachelor said.

“Central Florida, I love this community, I have been heavily involved in this community, and this community has come a long way,” he said. “One of the reasons, one of the reasons, it’s come a long way are people like those (Steve Clifford’s Social Justice Game Changer program) is identifying, who helped kind of pave the way, kind of the torch bearers on civil rights issues, now social justice issues. This kind of recognition causes us to reflect on the history from which we’ve come.”

About the Program: As part of the Magic and Clifford’s continuing efforts toward social justice reform, he created the Social Justice Game Changer program to honor one local leader who has made a difference in the realm of social justice issues. A cause close to his heart, Clifford is extremely active in programs that support equality and justice for all people in the Central Florida community.

Through this program, Clifford looks to put the spotlight on those continuously doing the hard work, day in and day out, fighting for sustainable change. As part of his program, one person is selected and honored each game. The honorees are given tickets, provided by Clifford, to the game and featured in-arena on the Magic Vision screen at center court.

“The purpose is to honor and to celebrate so many of the people in the Orlando community who are fighting for change and who commit their lives to making Orlando a better place,” Clifford said. “It’s just a way to celebrate them, what they stand for, and what they do for our community.”

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