Against the Grain II

Publix has nothing to do with heiress’ actions

Vaughn Wilson

Recently it has surfaced that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, an heiress to Publix Supermarkets, helped fund former president Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 that resulted in the stampeding of the U.S. Capitol.  Fancelli, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal, funded $300,000 towards the Trump events of Jan.6.

Publix tendered a release stating that “Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.”

As a former director of sales for the Capital Outlook under our family’s ownership, I must say that Publix was the most responsive, respectful and best advertiser to ever partner with our newspaper.  In fact, I would argue that all Black newspapers within their footprint would echo the sentiment.

Not only did they place beautiful advertisements that brightened up the paper, they were consistent.  They placed 52 week buys and would often double up, not missing a single issue.  They would make advertisements that were sensitive to black issues.  During the Christmas Holiday season, they would do specialized ads for Kwanzaa.  In short, they were not just advertising with us, they partnered with us.

In 2002 when FAMU, NFL and Olympic great Bob Hayes passed, we felt that we needed to do something special.  We decided to do a special eight-page section dedicated to Hayes.  It only took one call to Publix and they sponsored the entire section, on top of the ads they already had placed with us.  That section was so popular that for the first time in Capital Outlook history, we had to reprint.  Libraries in Jacksonville requested the sections by the dozen. There is no way we could have afforded to do it without the immediate responsiveness and recognition of the importance by Publix Super Markets.

It is my understanding during that time and I still see it today, that they placed advertisements in every legitimate Black newspaper in the state.  That is a commitment that cannot be overlooked.  Nor can the involvement and dedication of the company be reduced to an heiress who is a non-employee and has no authority in the direction for the company.

Publix as a company is in a difficult situation.  They went on to say that “the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets.”

The statements by the company do not leave room for interpretation.  They are direct and finite.  While Fancelli does not get a pass, she was acting as an individual… not as a spokeswoman or representative of Publix Super Markets.

This is one time where the body of work of a company in its dedication to the Black community and more importantly Black business which supersedes the rhetoric by someone not even involved with the company.  For me, it’s not what Publix has been saying, it’s what they have been doing by investing in Black business consistently for decades.