Annual Race Relations Summit set for Oct. 29

Photo courtesy PBS News Hour

This will be the first time the City of Tallahassee will hold its Race Relations Summit as a  virtual event due to the global epidemic.

In 2019, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, who is also a Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University political science instructor, discovered that area code 32304 was the poorest in the entire state of Florida. The bulk of people residing in the area code are college students which prompted Proctor to call for a summit to discuss various problems that are continuously taking place in Tallahassee.

Racial discrimination, housing, racial violence, law enforcement, and healthcare disparities will be among the issues to be discussed at the Oct. 29 summit.

Mayor John Dailey of Tallahassee believes it’s essential as a community to unite and engage in the summit in order for the community to resolve these issues.

“We must all come together and truly face these obstacles. If we are not going to make a difference and move the needle, it’s going to take all our commitment,” Dailey said after holding a conversation with various leaders in February about the best way to come to grips with these problems.

The ultimate aim of the Race Relations Summit is to unify society and educate racial literacy through a series of discussions. There will be 22 speakers including, four officers from the Tallahassee Police Department, and 15 seminars. The summit will have a live chat for people in the community to engage and to structure the discussion.

Michelle Wilson,  executive director of the Florida Commission on Human Relations and one of the speakers for the summit Michelle Wilson, addressed several approaches to keep the participants involved in this virtual summit.

“The theme for my portion is called ‘home,’ which sounds basic but it’s so complacent it includes a conversation about dream, knowledge and opportunities. Housing is a primary need that determines where your child goes to school. We all want strong communities; we want to build generational wealth. It’s essential that as a community, we educate and are knowledgeable about homeownership. My goal is to make sure this agency can provide help on home discrimination. We as an agency want to make sure landlords know fair housing exists and to understand their responsibility because we are not going to take sides,” Wilson said.

“Our agency is going to look at the facts. Also, with this summit, we can’t beat around the bush with the information we provide if we want to keep the audience engaged because we want people to be able to apply this information and achieve the goals we want out this society. Access to resources is powerful, as well as access to knowledge,” Wilson added.    

Many citizens are not aware of the health gaps that are prevalent in our society. With the current health crisis countless racial minorities receive lower quality services due to their color or gender as opposed to another color. The City of Tallahassee is raising awareness of the occurrences.

Marcus West, the speaker and director of the Community Health and Planning Division within the Department of Health of Leon County, will be focusing on ethnic and racial health disparities. 

“I will explore the ramifications and implications of racial disparities and what steps as a community we can take to address them. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care will require enhanced efforts at preventing disease, promoting health, and delivering appropriate care. Improving access to quality healthcare and delivery of preventive and treatment services will require closer work with these communities,” West said. 

The Racial Relations Summit is a free event, and every discussion will require registration on this website 

The summit is just one day on Oct. 29, beginning at 8 a.m. and finishing at 8 p.m.