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Meet the African-American filmmaker and historian who is Donald Trump’s NE Florida field operative

One thing about Duval County — it sometimes defies easy stereotyping.

That’s certainly true when you consider the fact that the Northeast Florida Regional Director for the Donald Trump for President campaign is Derek Boyd Hankerson.

Hankerson, who is of Gullah Geechee heritage, is an African-American documentary filmmaker, author and historian in addition to his political background.

He’s also the GOTV Director for Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen.

“My career started at 18 when I was staff at Reagan – Bush ’84,” Hankerson tells Florida Politics.

“I worked for the late Lee Atwater, and also worked with Ed Rollins, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and many others. I left President George W. Bush‘s administration in 2001 after serving in his transition team and presidential campaign as an Advance Representative. Unfortunately, my dad died in 2001 and I moved home to Florida to be close to my mother. Traditionally, in past presidential campaigns I’ve been based in D.C., but for this presidential campaign I’m based in Florida due the importance of the state – it’s a must-win.”

“As an American I humbled and honored that Mr. Trump hired me to run his northeast Florida region.”

Hankerson declined comment on the racial dynamics of Trump’s campaign.

His polling among African-Americans (and other nonwhite groups) is at historic lows, although Trump disputes some of those numbers.

Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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