Insights into modern American politics and society from two of Florida’s most influential public figures
“An inspiring collection. The essays of David R. Colburn and Senator Bob Graham beg us to answer the contemporary questions: What does it mean to be a Floridian, and who is up to bat in the coming decades? It is a must-read for every mindful soul in the Sunshine State.”—Nashid Madyun, executive director, Florida Humanities
“These galvanizing essays lay out a vision for Florida and America at their best, girded by political integrity and engaged, civic-minded citizens. Writing for the Public Good is a reckoning with history, an indictment of avarice, and a deeply informed guide to a just and prosperous future. It is a book for every student and citizen of Florida—to be studied, celebrated, and, if we are wise, fulfilled.”—Cynthia Barnett, award-winning author and environmental journalist in residence, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications
“This timely collection of opinion pieces crafted over 30 years will be a welcome addition for Floridians still grappling with the same issues in the third decade of the twenty-first century. From the 1990s to the present, Colburn and Graham aimed to use their voices to promote civic engagement on all manner of issues confronting the Sunshine State.”—James M. Denham, author of Fifty Years of Justice: A History of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
“This historical compilation of editorials written by two of Florida’s most prolific public intellectuals is a must-read for anyone interested in Florida, as well as national and international politics over the last 30 years. The public writings in this book demonstrate the importance of public discourse and civil argument much needed these days.”—Kathryn A. DePalo-Gould, author of The Failure of Term Limits in Florida
Writing for the Public Good presents a selection of over 100 important opinion pieces from David R. Colburn (1942-2019) and Senator Bob Graham, two of the most influential public figures in contemporary Florida. Spanning 30 years and addressing a wide variety of topics that continue to be relevant today, these essays show the key role of Florida in modern American life and politics and illustrate the power of civic engagement in tackling issues facing the nation.
Exemplifying public writing that connects with and informs readers everywhere, these pieces appeared as op-eds in outlets including the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and Time. With style, intelligence, and thoughtfulness, Colburn and Graham examine subjects including the economy, race relations, public education, the environment, national intelligence, and international affairs. They look to history to give context to the social problems of today, and they point forward to constructive solutions that center on the role of citizen activism.
Together, these essays chart the history of modern Florida, reflecting the state’s rise to a Sunbelt powerhouse that is often at the center of national conversations. Colburn and Graham challenge readers to consider and discuss different perspectives on current issues and, above all, to respond. Readers will come away with renewed hope that their actions can make a difference to improve society and will be inspired to work for a better tomorrow.
Steven Noll is master lecturer in history and affiliate faculty member of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. He is coauthor of Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida’s Future. David R. Colburn (1942?2019) served in many roles at the University of Florida, including as provost and senior vice president, professor of history, and director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. He is the author of From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics since 1940. Senator Bob Graham served the state of Florida for nearly four decades as first a state legislator, then governor, and finally a three-term U.S. Senator. In 2006 he created the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida to continue his legacy of leadership and train the next generation of Sunshine State leaders.
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