Valencia College Awarded Grant to Facilitate Community Discussions

The Florida Humanities Council has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Peace and Justice Institute through the Valencia College Foundation to facilitate a series of honest and robust community conversations about Central Florida’s racial history. The project stems from the Equal Justice Initiative Orange County Task Force, a group of community partners including the Democracy Forum, the Bridge-the-Gap Coalition, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, the Peace and Justice Institute and the Human Relations Diversity Board in Ocoee. This task force is partnering with the Equal Justice Initiative’s project to create a national memorial for Peace and Justice.

Funding will be used to organize a series of screenings of the documentary, “Ocoee: Legacy of the Election Day Massacre,” followed by community conversations led by a panel of local historians, scholars and activists. These discussions will take place across Central Florida in spring 2018 and are open to the public. The schedule is as follows:

Date: Monday January 29, 2018
Time:  2:30 – 4:30 p.m. 
Location: East Campus, Building 8, Room 101

Date: Tuesday January 30, 2018
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Osceola Campus, Building 1, Auditorium

Date: Wednesday January 31, 2018 
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: West Campus, Building HSB, Room 105

Date: Wednesday January 31, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Winter Park Community Center, 721 West New England Avenue, Winter Park

Date: Monday, February 12, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Tom Ison Center, 1705 Adair Street, Ocoee 

Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Time: 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Callahan Neighborhood Center, 101 North Parramore Avenue, Orlando 

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Women’s Club of Winter Park, 419 South Interlachen Avenue, Winter Park 

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Location: Seminole State College, 100 Weldon Blvd., Sanford (Concert Hall)


Alongside numerous local activists, Director of the Peace and Justice Institute Rachel Allen and Professor of History Heather Bryson will direct and take part in the panel discussions. The goals of the project include:

  • Community education regarding our local history of legal, structural and violent racism;
  • Community acknowledgement of this past and the ways in which it continues to contour our lives in Central Florida; and
  • A community-wide discussion about our path forward as an informed collective.

These conversations are an important addition to a project of racial recognition and reconciliation that has been underway for two decades within the city of Ocoee. They have struggled as a community to acknowledge the 1920 lynching of Julius Perry and the subsequent massacre and forced exodus of the black residents from the city. The grant-funded initiatives seek to both complement the efforts of Ocoee’s residents as well as expand the conversation of our racial history to the larger Central Florida community.

“Studying the history of race relations and practices of truth and reconciliation in the classroom is valuable,” shared Rachel. “However, this grant project gives each of us the chance to engage in the real life work of facing our collective history of racial terror. We can each be a part of the healing process through truth telling, deep listening and shared visioning for moving forward. This is the real work for all of us.”

Watch a slideshow from the events.

“Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Florida Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

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