Cornel West on issues facing black residents ahead of the legislature

American philosopher Cornel West shared his views on issues facing many black Florida residents during a panel discussion in Tallahassee on Saturday, a few days before the regular legislative session.

“We are not primarily anti-racists. We’re here because we love black people,” West said. “And if you love black people, then you hate it when they are treated unfairly.”

About 80 people attended the Social Justice Weekend event at Godby High School on Saturday. It was organized by Jackson County non-profit think tank Street Philosophy Institute. Local activists, university students, elected officials and leaders of the federal and local Democratic Party were among those in attendance.

“Jerry plays drums on Sly and the [Family] Stone, wasn’t he Black? Was he Sly’s ally? No way. He was in the band,” West said. “Our white brothers and sisters, brown brothers and sisters, indigenous brothers and sisters, will you be in the band?”

The panel consisted of seven people with experience in a range of fields including activism, academia, law and politics.

Efforts to ban critical race theory are a continuation of history, panellists say

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to remove diversity programs and critical race theory from the state’s colleges, universities and K-12 schools also came up during the discussion.

“This debate about critical race theory — it’s not new,” West said. “You’ve been trying to miseducate black people for four hundred years. They kept us from reading and learning to read and write for over two hundred and forty-four years.”

Last year, Republicans in the Legislature banned critical race theory from K-12 classrooms. Legislation tabled this year would eliminate majors and minors in critical race theory, gender studies and intersectionality, or those requiring courses in those subjects. It would eliminate DEI programs and initiatives that are not federally mandated.

READ :  Two-day conference celebrates 50 years of women’s studies at UB

Valerie Crowder



Tallahassee-based attorney Fred Flowers shares his views on education during a panel discussion at Godby High School in Tallahassee on Saturday, March 6, 2023.

“From the civil rights movement of the ’60s came the idea of ​​justice, diversity and inclusion,” Tallahassee-based attorney Fred Flowers, who helped found Florida State University’s Civil Rights Institute, said during the discussion. “Mr. Governor, are you against equal opportunities under the law, equal jobs?”

The panelists questioned why the governor wouldn’t sit down and talk to them to hear their concerns about education and other issues.

“We cannot reconcile the social justice movement until we reconcile truth, and we cannot do that until we look at true American history.”

Democrat opposition is not enough to prevent further restrictions on race and gender education in schools

Democrats in the state legislature have opposed many of these measures, but the party has been in the minority for decades.

This year, Republicans have a supermajority after Democrats reported staggering losses in the 2022 midterm elections, including key statewide races like that for the US Senate.

“This was the most disgraceful vote that has ever taken place in Florida history,” said Judy Mount, vice chair of the state’s Democratic Party, who also spoke on the podium. Mount was referring to former Rep. Val Demings’ loss of more than a million votes to Senator Marco Rubio, despite Demings raising more money than Rubio.

Valerie Crowder



Florida Democratic Party Vice Chair Judy Mount (center) shares how she engages Jackson County voters during a panel discussion on social justice Saturday, March 6, 2023 in Tallahassee. Tallahassee-based attorney and activist Marie Rattigan (left) and Tallahassee branch NAACP President Mutaqee Akbar (right) also spoke on the podium.

READ :  Textbook lending library relieves financial pressure - The Spectator

Mount is also the chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Party. Part of her effort to reach the electorate is to go directly to where the people are and engage them. “I go to the people,” she said. “We go to the projects, I go to the rich. But you have to reach people.”

The Florida Democratic Party recently elected Nikki Fried as the new state party leader as its members try to figure out how to increase the party’s voter registration numbers, motivate higher turnout for Democrats, and raise more money.

The story of the lynching of Claude Neal has been kept largely hidden from younger generations in Marianna

Valerie Crowder



L. Lamar Wilson, Professor of Literature at Florida State University, will read some of his poetry and present his documentary, The Changing Same, during the Social Justice Weekend event in Tallahassee on March 6, 2023.

During the event, the FSU literature professor screened his documentary The Changing Same, a film about Wilson’s annual marathon to uncover the story of Claude Neal’s lynching in Marianna.

Wilson says he never learned about the infamous lynching at school, even though it was one of the most brutal in American history and took place in his hometown. He says he learned about it after reading historian James McGovern’s book The Anatomy of a Lynching, which Wilson found at the Jackson County Public Library.

Wilson later ran a marathon in October on the anniversary of Neal’s lynching. After that, he says, the book was temporarily removed from the library. Today, the online catalog indicates that the book is available but not allowed to be borrowed.

READ :  Public college assistant professor recruitment to start soon: Haryana CM

Many older African American residents in Jackson County who were alive when Neal was lynched did not speak out about the tragedy for fear of what might happen to them or their loved ones, Wilson said.

“They were afraid for their children and grandchildren,” he said. “They didn’t want violence to come over them.”

“I always worry about what might happen to me or my loved ones for what I say,” Wilson said. “But I can’t let fear keep me from speaking what is documented fact and truth.”

Copyright 2023 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.