Courier photojournalist wins first-place award for image of Clearwater rally

Duane C. Fernandez Sr. & Alexia McKay


Journalists from across the Tampa Bay area were honored and celebrated at the 2019 Griot Drum Awards and Scholarship Banquet in Tampa last month.

Hosted by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, the evening recognized journalists for their accurate and quality coverage of people of color and their communities.

Among the finalists was a photo taken by Florida Courier photojournalist Duane C. Fernandez Sr. at an Aug. 5 rally last year at St. John Primitive Baptist Church in Clearwater. Fernandez’s image won the first-place award for general photography.

The photo depicted a stand your ground rally in the case of Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Michael Drejka, a White man, outside of a convenience store in Clearwater on July 19, 2018. Drejka has since been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

National finalist too

McGlockton’s death sparked protests by Florida and national civil rights leaders and activists.  

Fernandez’s photo was published in the Aug. 10, 2018 issue of the Florida Courier and featured notables such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney Benjamin Crump, as well as Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin.  

Fernandez also was a finalist this year in the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) Salute to Excellence contest for a photo spread from the same rally.  

The awards contest is the only one in the country that honors exemplary coverage of African/African American people or issues exclusively.

From Sanford to S.C.

Fernandez has made a career of capturing scenes of civil unrest as well as other major events throughout the country. 

He also was a 2016 NABJ finalist in the multiple images category for a photo spread titled “Capturing Harmony and Hate in South Carolina.” The page featured photos of a vigil for victims of the 2015 shooting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston and a Ku Klux Klan rally in Columbia.

His work includes covering major stories, including the Trayvon Martin unrest and trial in Sanford, Muhammad Ali’s funeral, anniversaries of the Million Man March and the March on Washington. 

Fernandez, who resides in Daytona Beach, holds degrees in photographic studies and television production from Daytona State College and runs a non-profit organization, Hardnotts University, where the mission statement is “teaching kids to shoot with cameras, not guns.”

Last year, Fernandez produced a documentary titled “Lies Uncovered: The Truth about the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys.” The Mariana reform school operated from 1900 to 2011. Boys sent to the school were beaten, abused, raped, tortured and murdered. 

Fernandez became fascinated with the story after seeing a news account about it. His curiosity led to a documentary he wrote, directed and produced.

He has just completed a book with the same title as the documentary. It’s scheduled to be released in January. 

Another Courier winner

The Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists’ Griot Drum awards were presented on Nov. 14 at the Marriott Westshore Tampa.

Another Griot Drum winner is the Florida Courier’s newest editorial assistant, Alexia McKay. McKay also is the publisher and editor-in-chief of RoyalTee Magazine, a publication that highlights the accomplishments of young women of color.

McKay won the firstplace award for best online story for her 2018 feature article titled “Too Black to Be Latin, Too Latin To Be Black.” Her story discussed the identity struggles of Afro-Latinos in the Latin and Black cultures.


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