May 20, Florida GoodLongformRacial equity. Thursday marks one month since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
In Gainesville, over 1, community members came together to march through the city last summer. Since the Civil Rights Movement, groups of UF students and Gainesville community members have used their voices to promote racial equality and justice. While the reason for this fight has remained similar, the means and voices have changed with new technology and legislation. Denifield Player, a Black man, was one of the first people who organized against civil rights disparities in Gainesville.
They were refused service on the basis of their skin color.
Player and his friends began testing other restaurants in Gainesville to see who would serve them. With the encouragement of his pastor, Player and his friends organized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council in a direct effort to integrate restaurants and movie theaters. Player as a teenager worked at the Florida Theatre, a whites-only theater in Gainesville.
White audiences would often throw popcorn at him while cleaning isles. Intwo Black men were denied tickets to the same theater and refused to leave, which resulted in picketing. Player said the demonstration was met with venom, but not violence. After continued picketing, particularly at the Florida Theatre, the city of Gainesville formed a biracial committee in the summer of Dan Harmeling, a white student, started at UF in Falla semester when the school admitted only seven Black students.
He and his brother, Jim Harmeling, would later become prominent activists in the Civil Rights Movement.
Dan Harmeling recalled that he was usually only ed by about 25 people when picketing. Now, as the university and the city of Gainesville has grown, so too has its activism. Some 60 years later, the students and faculty at the university continue to advocate for the fair treatment of Black people. Inthere were just a handful of Black students at UF. Player, however, was not allowed to attend UF in After growing up in Gainesville, he had to leave his hometown to attend college.
He would later return to Gainesville as a faculty member at UF. So, I find a little irony in that. The university did not begin admitting Black students until over a century after its founding. Marshall B. He originated the Student Group for Equal Rights and was a published author advocating for the resistance against the treatment of Black people in the s.
In the memoir, Jones reflects on a specific trip to St. Augustine, where he and other students protested for Black rights. Many students, including Harmeling and Jones, were arrested. This past summer, over 1, people marched against police brutality in multiple organized marches in Gainesville.
Pennamon is studying African American literature and cultural studies and has documented community protests. She helped curate a historical display in the George A. Smathers Libraries and participated in some of the marches during summer She said the attention given toward the different identities and groups within the Black community — such as Black women, queer and trans folks, or disabled people — helps raise awareness for those who are oppressed or marginalized in more than one way.
But for Pennamon, some of the parallels are also disheartening. This is a historic turn from just five years prior, when many positions of power were only held by white men. In almost all levels of local public office, a person of color now holds a major position.
Johnson was recently reelected, but Simmons was beat out by Desmon Duncan-Walker, another Black woman, for the District 1 seat. The seat includes much of East Gainesville and the Porters community and has not won a second term in nearly 10 years. On a larger scale, Clovis Watson Jr. Watson ran on a policy of reform, suggesting the use of diversion programs and more reflection on police practices.
Education equity has been an ongoing conversation in Gainesville. This closure led to more integration within other Gainesville high schools, especially Gainesville High.
Tensions were still high between the groups, and on March 26,a riot broke out at Gainesville High School after a group of white students raised a confederate flag on the victory pole. The achievement gap between Black and white students is one of the ways racial disparities in Alachua County are measured.
This gap, which is based on factors such Gainesville women dating culture reading performance and economic status, was found to have widened in recent years. Inthe Alachua County School Board outlined plans to close this gap. This plan comes just one year after Alachua County placed two Black women on its school board for the first time in its history.
Inafter Diyonne McGraw won a seat on the Alachua County School board, it marked the first time in Alachua history that three Black women held a majority on the board. In the s, inclusivity was not a goal of UF. Farias reed from his role in mid-March, prompting the university to search for a new officer.
Like other colleges at the university, CLAS has its own diversity and inclusion committee called the Steering Committee. CLAS created the committee in and works with each department, overseeing best policies and initiatives for inclusivity and diversity. The Steering Committee and other diversity, equity and inclusion college representatives at UF expressed their inability to recruit students of color, despite their own efforts of outreach and inclusion.
Watt said CLAS is actively looking to recruit more faculty of color.
It’s a woman’s world
CLAS is working to make African American studies, currently an undergraduate major, into a department. The hope is that the cluster hire will create a community both scholarly and socially. As these institutional changes are slowly but surely implemented, certain social practices have allowed instances of inequality to be brought to the forefront of mainstream conversation. Zoharah Simmons, a retired UF professor of religion, said she thinks the prevalence of social media has allowed issues of social justice to sp widely than what was possible during the Civil Rights era.
I mean, they say those were the largest demonstrations that have ever been held in this country.
What’s good in gainesville and alachua county, may ,
So I think that is a big part of the new toolbox. For others, the use of social media seems to muddle the true efforts of certain movements. But when criteria was developed the next year for cities to become certified as welcoming, local immigration advocates discovered the city was far from meeting them.
Peaceful protest against discrimination outside College Inn across from the University of Florida campus. It was during one of the demonstrations in Tallahassee that Harmeling was arrested along with other students.
The New Faces of Activism This past summer, over 1, people marched against police brutality in multiple organized marches in Gainesville. Brooks Bass.