Change is Necessary
by Mary Daniels / June 30, 2020
Events since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have raised more questions than answers. Floyd’s death seems to have been the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’
What to do? First, we examine those questions. The answers will come when we are able to engage in honest conversation about the systemic racism that has plagued our culture for 400 years. The black community is not the only community to suffer from racial injustice, but it is my community and the community for which I can speak authentically.
What can we do?
One has to look deep within oneself and acknowledge the fact that the problem has and does exist. No problem can be solved unless you can first truly acknowledge that there is a problem.
Does one have to ask why “Black Lives Matter”?
Black lives have NOT mattered in this society’s system for 400 plus years, when our ancestors were first brought here as slaves in the hulls of ships in inhumane conditions.
The institution of slavery created systemic racism.
We’ve all been told for years that our system works. “If it’s not broken why fix it? it’s worked for years!” Yes, but for whom does it work? And who is being disenfranchised by our system?
Who needs to worry they might be killed while they’re driving, jogging or simply walking home? Should a doctor unpacking his car in the driveway of his home be worried? Should you be worried, sleeping in your bed, that authorities with no warrant and without announcing who they are will break into your house and open fire?
On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black male, was murdered on national TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mr. Floyd was handcuffed by a white police officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Mr. Floyd was crying he couldn’t breathe, asking for help and calling for his [deceased] Mom.
While Officer Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, looking into the middle distance with his hands in his pockets, and while two other officers knelt on Floyd’s back and a fourth officer stood by watching, George Floyd took his last breath.
If this brutal act of murder did not touch everyone, there is definitely something wrong. This ls one of many such events across this nation. And they continue.
Winter Park finally speaks in a soft voice.
On June 4, ten days after Floyd’s death, Winter Park Chief of Police Michael Deal posted a message on cite-news stating the City of Winter Park was committed to de-escalation and has banned excessive use of force, such as the use of choke holds.
On June 24, City Manager Randy Knight posted a letter on the city website on behalf of the Mayor, Commissioners and Staff as a follow-up to the June 22nd Commission meeting. The mayor himself has never spoken.
Being silent sends the wrong message.
Although conversations on racism are difficult, especially for white people, we can start the process by reaching an understanding that black people did not create racism.
Black people were thrown into it by being brought over in the hulls of slave ships and sold as chattel to slave owners. They suffered inhumane treatment, raping of the ladies and their daughters, and filthy congested conditions. The males, for sale to slave owners like cattle, were seen as inferior because their skin was black.
These captives were stripped of their culture, their birthright and even their names. As slaves, they were required to assume the surnames of their new masters.
What was my great-grandfather’s name?
These were people who were good enough to breast-feed your white babies, raise your white kids, cook your food, clean your homes, wash your clothes, plant and harvest your food — but not good enough to sit at a table and share a meal with you or sit next to you at Church or at a restaurant or on a bus.
The color of our skin, that beautiful brown and black complexion, that color you yearned for when you sat in the sun to get a tan, was what made black people perceived as something dirty and inferior.
How does this 400-year history of systemic black oppression play out within the context of the history of Winter Park?
Black Men Mattered in 1887, when the Town of Winter Park was incorporated.
At that time, there were not enough registered Democratic white voters for the community to become a town. One black man, Gus Henderson, editor of Winter Park’s first newspaper, The Advocate, rallied the black Hannibal Square Republicans to march across the tracks after sunset to exercise their voices and their right to vote. It was the black Republican vote that secured the incorporation of Winter Park as a town.
Walter B. Simpson, a land-owner, was elected Alderman and served from 1887 to 1893.
Frank R. Israel, a land-owner, also served as Alderman from 1887 to 1893.
Once the white power brokers had achieved their goal of incorporating the Town of Winter Park, they sought to overturn the election results because they did not want blacks to serve in any governing capacity. Initially they failed. Later succeeding, they finally were able to remove the Hannibal Square community from the town limits. Hannibal Square, as a whole, was kicked out of the Town of Winter Park.
Thirty years later, in the 1920s, Winter Park still lacked the required number of registered voters to achieve their new ambition to become a City. Once again, they needed those black Republican voters. So the Hannibal Square community was brought back and restored as part of the City of Winter Park. The rest is history. No black man or woman has served in an elected capacity since 1893.
Black Women Matter.
Some 50 years ago, a black woman, Mary Allen Howard, ran for City Commission. She was told she would never win. In 2019, 50 years after Mary Allen Howard’s unsuccessful bid, a young black Winter Park entrepreneur, Barbara Chandler, also ran for a City Commission seat. Chandler is the manager of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. She lives in Winter Park.
In the course of her work, Chandler learned the history of the Hannibal Square community, which has had no representation since 1893. As she continued to meet the residents, Chandler became concerned and inspired. She asked herself, ‘what I am doing to make a difference to help eradicate such disenfranchisement through systemic racism?’ Barbara’s campaign for a commission seat, though not successful, made an impact and hopefully has inspired others to be involved and to claim a voice in the city’s governing body.
Fairolyn Livingston, Chief Historian of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, was
born in Winter Park, attended Hannibal Square Elementary, Hungerford High School, and Howard Community Jr. College. She graduated from Rollins College.
Fairolyn has researched and interviewed every contributor to the permanent collection of Oral & Pictorial History exhibits at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. She oversees the project in which she records residents and documents their rich history in the Hannibal Square community. I often tell her she is a walking encyclopedia. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center is a program of the Crealde School of Art. Everyone is welcome to come there and learn the history of what was a thriving community.
All Lives Matter
I have heard people respond to the “Black Lives Matter” movement by saying, ‘All lives matter.’ All lives do matter – but in our current system, black lives matter less. That is wrong!
What is my Name? Can you see me? Yes, I am still HERE in 2020!
My name is Mary Daniels. I am beautifully Black! I Matter!
Yes, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”!
SILENCE Is Not an Option. Change Is Necessary. We Are ALL Humans and We All MATTER!
Mary Daniels is a citizen of Winter Park. About who she is, Mary writes, “All that anyone is came from the beginning ancestors Adam & Eve. So then, who are we blacks, and even more importantly, who are you whites – and all the different races of the world? We breathe, bleed and have the same organs as all other human beings. I make no apology for my being born black, my culture and heritage of being a strong, respectful, beautiful woman of color.”
That is a beautiful statement, Mary. Both emotional and informative. Thank you.
I loved this.
Mary your article is a must for all to read to begin the conversation, that must be had.
A time comes when silence is betrayal. MLK quoted this sentence from a group that called itself the Clergy and Laymen concerned about Vietnam. It is time to reject the silence.
Loved your reply
Thank you Mary! Beautifully written. Everything you have said is so true. Change IS necessary and silence is no longer an option. It is time to end the systematic racism that has plagued this country for 400 plus years and treat people of all colors with the respect they deserve. Thank you for all of your contributions to the Hannibal Square community!
Well said Mary
Thank you, Mary for this beautifully written article. I am very familiar with the history of the Hannibal Square area but I am sure many readers are not. As a Winter Park citizen, I am ashamed that the City did not speak to the problem immediately after the death of George Floyd and that our Mayor has said nothing. I am pleased to see some black citizens have been appointed to boards. This is a start. Finally Mary, you are not only a beautiful black woman , you are a beautiful person. I am so lucky to be your friend.
I agree with Mary with all my heart. Her column is beautifully written and hopefully will be read by every citizen in Winter Park, especially by the mayor. I would like to see change in the community I’ve lived in for 45 years
Thanks so much for your challenge to all of us who are citizens of Winter Park. As a native here, who experienced the civil rights and desegregation years, I have been discouraged by the silence of the mayor in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd. Attending the city council meetings is an embarrassment, without the representation of our significant and gifted African-American leaders on the council. I encourage other white neighbors to support candidates of color who will make our council more fully representative of the history and future of our city. Bless you for your passionate witness, Mary Daniels!
Thank you, Mary, for these important and insights and specifics on racial issues in Winter Park. To my fellow white people I say first we need to listen and understand but then we need to act, because as Mary says, “black people did not create racism.”
Thanks Mary for speaking to truth.
Mary, I hope your article gets broader exposure than just our community. It is, as you are, truthful and bold, and should be read by Americans everywhere. Thank you for your leadership.
Your writing fills me with emotions of sadness. A subtle awareness of societal bias, while benefiting from my “lottery of birth privilege” isn’t enough. I’ll work towards being “a part of the solution.”
Thank you for your courage and wisdom.
Thank you Mary for writing this poignant piece about how we, as today’s Winter Parkers, can change the future – by setting aside the inequities and biased behaviors of the past. Thanks for speaking up!
Ms Daniels states: ‘No black man or woman has served in an elected capacity since 1893″. That is appalling and may be the result of systemic racism in our Winter Park community that uses at large voting instead of district voting (in which you must live in the district you represent) to historically suppress black representation on the City Commission. The result of this is the systematic destruction of the historic West Side by developers in cooperation of our recent pro-development and compliant City Commission who approved dramatic changes to zoning regulations that were demanded by the developers.
I believe that Commissioner Weaver tried recently to change Winter Park from at large to district representation. Understand that he could not even get a second on the motion at that City Commission meeting. Why was that?
Now is the time for black representation on the City Commission. The only way that will happen is for Weaver’s motion for district representation to be approved or through legal action in the Courts. Increased black representation on the various city boards is not enough.
Your heart has spoken. As a lifelong resident, it pains me as much as it pains you to have to explain this to the very same people that you interact with on a regular basis. We know the feeling.
Thank you, Mary Daniels and Fairolyn Livingston, for all you do for our entire community.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a summer school class at Winter Park High that just happened to be made up mostly of young black men – still boys really on the cusp of manhood. In the course of class discussion, I learned that everyone of them had already had interactions with the police. For example, one story that I recall was that the young man was riding his bike home from school when he was suddenly surrounded by the police who threw him off his bike on to the ground with guns pointed at him. He was told later that he fit the description of a burglary suspect. But really he was just an innocent kid riding home from school. Each of the boys wrote about similar stories. Now admittedly this was many years ago and I hope the young black men of the Winter Park community are no longer at a high risk of this kind of treatment. But if they are we all need to speak up to be sure that our community never sees a murder like the far too many murders we have seen all across our country. I am happy to learn that the Winter Park police chief has banned choke holds and has addressed the problem of excessive force. We need the protection that a good police force provides. It’s up to us to demand fairness for all and to strive to end racism in all it’s ugly forms. Through the centuries, we have squandered too many beautiful lives who had so much to give.
Thank you Mary. Powerful, poignant and personal. I so appreciate you sharing this. Your voice matters here and throughout our community.
All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter. You are part of the All and yes, You Matter.
Black Lives Matter
Life Long Hannibal Square Resident Mary Daniels, My Mentor, Advocate and Fearless Leader, Guest Editor for the Winter Park Voice. Thank you Mary Daniels for all you have done for the overall community of Winter Park. You are my SHERO!!
While the Winter Park Voice is having Black community leaders to write and amplify their perspectives of BLACK LIVES MATTER, it is important that the voice maintain, Black Voices as an ongoing part of your conversations. If Systemic Change is your authentic intent. We do not want to be used for this moment only.
We are seeking consistency in representation via your online newsletter, around city issues which hinders Black Constituents from owning business,and being elected into government to name a few. The term “Black Lives Matter” is not just another great heading for your newsletter, we are actually “reading” the articles and how BLACK LIVES are included in the totality of the issues covered by Winter Park.
Anne Mooney, as the editor—challenge yourself and your readers as to what role they have played in systemic racism to those BLACK LIVES, they call “friends” or “neighbors”. Ask your readers—since BLACK LIVES MATTER how will they prove it? Ask your readers to Advocate and VOTE to change The City of Winter Park to Single Member District so those same BLACK LIVES can have BLACK Representation in Leadership. Are you standing with us Anne Mooney?
Anne Mooney, I vividly remember seeing you and Sally Flynn along with a few others in attendance at the Charter Review meeting earlier this year; Why didn’t BLACK LIVES MATTER enough at that critical time, in which you and Sally Flynn could’ve advocated for Single Member District to ensure your Black “friends” and “neighbors” have representation in government? Did you and Sally Flynn need to SEE another Black Person dying at the hands of a another white racist cop to get it? Are ya’ll WOKE now?
Anne Mooney and Sally Flynn can your Black “Friends” and “Neighbors” count on both of you to AMPLIFY your VOICES at the next City Commission meeting and advocate for Winter Park to become a Single Membership District?
Powerful, truthful, heartfelt words, Mary! I am so thankful for voices like Mary’s that speak truth. I yearn to hear the voices, and see the actions of our white brothers and sisters who have the power to institute change. Only YOU can dismantle this racist institution, that you have so willfully sustained.. Speak up and act now, so that we can come out of this racist pandemic into a more just reality. No one is truly free until every one is free. It takes courage to speak up to and for the city I know you love. One person can change the world. Winter Park be that change agent. Thank you Mary.
Mary, you are an eloquent writer and thinker. I’m proud to learn from you and have learned to always listen when you speak up. Thanks for your wisdom, logic & lessons.
Mary, thank you for this powerful message. We white people who have been cheering you on from the sidelines and tacitly agreeing with you must now step up and join with you to dismantle the structural racism we’ve often ignored or denied.
What can we do? Besides pay attention and listen. Maybe we could start by having groups, no big forums just small groups, meet and listen and learn what we can do together to change things and make our wonderful town an even better place to live for all of us.
Thank you Mary for your review and appraisal of Winter Park’s own systemic racial woes. I make it my pursuit, passion and practice to attend Juneteenth and other Hannibal Square celebrations that accentuate, commemorate and celebrate the black diaspora. Unfortunately the rest of Winter Park doesn’t share my enthusiasm or zeal. These occasions are poorly attended and seem to be of no significance to many. People ask how can I make a difference? My suggestion is simple: show up and support the local diversity events. Drop in at one of the local black churches and be moved by the Holy Spirit. Purchase from the vendors that sell their homemade wares at these events. Have some yummy soul food. We have so much to celebrate and share. These are opportunities to built bridges and not walls. Winter Park! don’t be afraid to cross the tracks and mingle. There are a lot of fine and friendly amigos on the west side of Winter Park. Maybe we’ll see more of you when the library is built at MLK Park??
Slavery did not create systemic racism in America. However, good news, slavery was abolished. Now, on to the present: The charge of systemic racism by the BLM movement concerns racism in police/sheriff departments country-wide. We are talking about an alleged problem with roughly 800,000 officers of the law. I defy Mary (or anyone else) to demonstrate with hard data that that body of men/women is today, across the board, coast to coast, border to border, engaged in day-to-day racist behavior against the thousands of communities served.
Thank you Mary for speaking the truth so eloquently.
With regard to the City of Winter Park Commissioners with their reluctance to move to an ‘at large’ system and overt ‘silence’ regarding the issue of systemic exclusion that has framed the history of Winter Park politics – it’s time to show up or shove off.
It’s time for a RECALL of all the ‘sitting’ Winter Park leaders who refuse to ‘Take a Stand’ for inclusion and diversity.
Establishing Single-Member District for the election of Winter Park commissioners should be on the ballot this fall. It’s not just a matter of race, it’s a matter of equal representation for all, similar to how the U.S. House is made up. The 32789 zip code includes many Winter Park residents that live west of 17-92. The 32792 zip is almost a forgotten orphan. Commissioner Weaver should not give up.
Thank you, Mary, for bringing a personal perspective to a very real problem. Thanks also for pointing out that these “big picture problems” have roots that go deep into our own backyard and our own history. I feel it’s time for all of us to own our history so that we can learn, heal, and change for a better future.
Mary, thank you for your wise and heartfelt words. I have always admired your ability to speak so eloquently for your community at public meetings whether it be at Planning and Zoning or City Commission meetings. I think many of us are ready and willing to help you and see positive changes in Winter Park.
For 35 years in OCPS, I’d end each lesson with 10 minutes of ” each one teach one.” These young people each helped one student I hadn’t been able to reach with that lesson. It worked because the”each one teacher” understood where their partner’s thinking was confused when,
finally, the math problem or point of grammar was explained in “student language” and without pressure. The unintended consequence??? My students who had seated themselves in racial groups integrated that class themselves. Powerful!
I’d like each white person to find a black person and each black person to find a white person and over a glass of tea or water spend 10 minutes “each one teach one.” You’ll hear surprising questions and thoughts. Ask one uncomfortable race-related question…..one you really want an answer to; now, if it isn’t uncomfortable, you aren’t doing it right.
I lived in Winter Park for five years, before returning to my native city. I think that the whites in FL will not respect and treat Balcks with respect, until there are more Black, Latino, etc., leadership in FL. The major issue in FL is that the majority of all the leaders, principals. Governors, etc., are all older, White males. Once FL elects more people of color, and not until this happens will Blacks be treated with more respect, and more will “speak out” against the blatant, evil, systemic racist system that I observed there on a daily basis, for 5 years.
Mary Daniels, I am so proud of you, one of my best friend little sister. You have spoken the truth. It is so unfortunate that it has taken the loss of another Black life to awaken the world to ongoing systematic racism. You have spoken with such clarity and truth. May your words be the light that others will SEE clearly, and the voice that ears will HEAR loudly. Your words yield the POWER to encourage ACTION across the races. We are all truly in this together. Change is long overdue in the towns and cities across America.
it is self-destructive for any society to create a situation where a baby who is born into the world today automatically has pre-existing grievances against another baby born at the same time, because of what their ancestors did centuries ago.Jun 28, 2019 Dr.Thomas Sowell
I think Mary should run for office as she has demonstrated her outstanding abilities in the piece she wrote.
Next I would like to hear more about the rules that make establishing Black owned businesses difficult here. That sounds like an area for concrete action.
Thank you for your wisdom, and for your willingness to take the time to write this truth-filled article.
I pray that all we white people will understand that racism is our responsibility to face and work to change, to make official apologies, to make full retribution for this systemic brutality against our sisters and brother. And I also pray that each white person will examine our white privilege and internalized racism, so deeply rooted in white people of this United States. This kind of change must begin in our individual hearts and souls.
Mary, thank you for educating and inspiring many people. May God forever bless you.
God created Adam and Eve and all human beings descended from them and live all over the world.
A mistake was made when some humans decided to try to dehumanize other humans in order to create a superiority and inferiority system that culminated in the mistreatment of some of Adam and Eve’s descendants in order for them to survive and to be prosperous.
God forgives, cleanses and offers repentance to those who choose to repent and to begin to live according to God’s Word.
We are all in this together and can choose to work together to fairly begin again to transform God’s country into one human race, loving and prosperous place.
Thank you, Mz. Daniels for speaking out, speaking truth. I see you, I hear you, I respect you and appreciate you. Your beauty shines from the inside out. Your wisdom and insight make waves.
Thank you Mary and the Winter Park Voice for commentary on this issue. Black Lives Matter is not “a symbol of hate” nor is it just a slogan, it is however a collective distress call that should be heeded. Just as George Floyd’s desperate call for water and an exclamation of I can’t breathe should have been met with some semblance of humanity. I am still traumatized by the image of Mr. Floyd’s death. I am continually perplexed by mans’ capacity to be inhuman in the treatment of others. We should practice the Golden Rule. We can all do better, we must do better.
Several people encouraged me to read your article. Thank you for taking the time to share not only your perspective but some history of which this 25 year Winter Park resident was not aware. it is clear from the comments that you are a well-respected leader from whom I hope I will continue to hear.
I would like to thank each of you for your thoughtful comments to my article “Change Is Neccessary”.
I have read them several times and pray that we all have had and opportunity to reflect and see how we can take an active action toward tangible Changes needed in our community and city.
It is a start, having the conversations transcends into actions which we now realize the need for eradicating systemic oppression of a people wherever it exist in the system.
Respectfully Looking & working Toward Positive Changes!
Mary Daniels, Resident