Change is Necessary

Change is Necessary

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.

De-annexation

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. 

Re-annexation

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.”

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OAO Email Mystery Solved

OAO Email Mystery Solved

by Anne Mooney / June 26, 2020

Winter Parkers who received an email titled “Winter Park, Winter Garden. A Tale of Two Winters,” bearing the Winter Park city seal superimposed by the words “Orange Avenue” and including the Notice of Public Hearing from the June 21 Orlando Sentinel were understandably mystified.

Readers Ask: Where Did This Come From?

At first glance, the email appeared to have been sent by the City of Winter Park. However, the body of the email contained an unfavorable comparison of Winter Park to the city of Winter Garden. Adding to the confusion was a call to action toward the end of the text, urging recipients to contact the Mayor and Commissioners and to attend a public hearing July 7th.

 

Email from Demetree Real Estate Services

Communications Director Clarissa Howard, who was not aware of the email until she received a query from the Voice, said she did not know who had sent it. She quickly looked into the matter and discovered the email had come from the Demetree Real Estate Services Constant Contact account. Demetree Real Estate is one of two large landholders within the Orange Avenue Overlay.

Howard fired off an email advising the sender, “Using this official city image in your messaging misrepresents your communication as information produced and distributed by the City of Winter Park.”

Second-degree Misdemeanor

In her email, Howard cited city code, Section 2-4:  “As provided by law, the manufacture, use, display or other employment of any facsimile or reproduction of the municipal seal, except by municipal officials or employees in the performance of their official duties, without the express approval of the governing body is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in F.S. § 775.082 or 775.083, as the same may be amended. The city manager, or his designee, is delegated the authority to grant permission to others to use the seal.”

Howard’s email concluded, “Absent of our expressed approval, I respectfully ask that you refrain from using the city seal in any of your messaging tools. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.”

Temporary Moratorium

At issue is the Demetree organization’s opposition to a proposed ordinance placing a temporary moratorium on development within the Orange Avenue Overlay district until the current City Commission is able to craft an Orange Avenue Overlay ordinance to replace the one that was rescinded in April of this year.

Demetree company representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

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Commission Moves to Wednesday

Commission Moves to Wednesday

Commission Moves to Wednesday

City Advisory Board Appointments Announced & Explained

by Anne Mooney / June 24, 2020

Starting with the July 8 meeting, regularly scheduled Commission meetings will move from the second and fourth Monday to the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Meetings will continue to begin at 3:30 pm.

The move will avoid conflicts with holidays that are celebrated on Mondays and will facilitate those popular long weekends.

Virtual Meetings Through July

Commission meetings will continue to be virtual through the end of July, based on Governor Ron DeSantis extension of Executive Order 20-69 allowing virtual meetings of local governments to continue.

New Board Appointments Across the Board

The process of appointing members of City Advisory Boards changed with the adoption in March of revisions to the Winter Park City Charter. Formerly, the Mayor made all advisory board appointments, with the approval of the Commission. Now, all boards have seven members; three members of each board are appointed by the Mayor and one member is appointed by each of the four Commissioners.

Transition Appointments – happens only once in 2020

It seems 2020 has thrown everything into a cocked hat, and there will be no exception in the matter of board appointments. The amended Charter dictates that Board members serve “at the pleasure” of the appointing Mayor or Commissioner, and their terms will run concurrently with the Mayor or Commissioner making the appointment. Each board member is limited to two three-year terms on a particular board.

This means, since Mayor Leary has only one year left to serve in his current term, his board appointees also will have one-year terms on that board. Similarly, appointees named by Commissioners Cooper and Weaver will have two-year terms.

Hang in there . . .

At Monday’s meeting, the Commission decided that the one-year appointments will be considered ‘partial terms,’ and will not count toward the two-term limit, allowing these appointees two full three-year terms in addition to the one-year term granted by Leary.

Two-year terms, however, will be considered full terms and will be eligible for only one further term on that board. This condition applies to Cooper’s and Weaver’s appointees.

Fortunately, we will encounter this situation only once, since the newly-seated 2020 Commission decided in April to release all board members from their current appointments and to begin fresh with all new May appointments, which are beginning in June because of the pandemic.

However they got there, and for however long, we owe a debt of gratitude to the people who have agreed to serve the community on the various Advisory Boards. Here is a link to the new slate.

DeCiccio Named to Library Board of Trustees

Commissioner Sheila DeCiccio was named to the seat on the Library Board of Trustees that is traditionally occupied by a member of the Commission. The seat was previously held by former Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel.

 

 

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Juneteenth – Celebrating with Personal Pledges

Juneteenth – Celebrating with Personal Pledges

Juneteenth - Celebrating with Personal Pledges

Valada Flewellyn and Charley Williams / June 19, 2020

 

 

Skin on the Rope

by Valada Flewellyn

 

We all have skin on the rope

Whether a neck on the rope

Or a hand on the rope

We all have skin on the rope

The pain of that connection

Grips us, entangles us

 

Compels us to examine

Our history, then construct

Tomorrow to manifest the

Wounds that need

More than a band-aid

 

Wounds that warrant more

Than a cursory examination

We must dissect the

Fibers of our history

Inspect our suspect

Moral Consciousness

 

Which allows sin to fester

As we turn our heads

Away from the atrocities

That grab our children

Drowning them in the muck

Of our making

 

Leaving them unprepared

Unprotected but infected

Generation after generation

From our refusal to acknowledge

 

How we have Failed

Our children . . . All

 

We ALL have skin on the rope.

January 28, 2020   

 

Crafting Our Pledges

Ending systemic racism starts with taking responsibility. Each of us must craft his or her own pledge, beginning with the word “I.” Valada and I encourage WP Voice readers to craft their own pledges. We will begin the conversation by giving you ours.

Charley Williams’ Pledge:

I commit to learning more about the root causes of racism, how it spreads, how I enable it and how it is incorporated into life-damaging policies on things like voting, education, access to health care and mass incarceration. I will listen. I will call out racial bias when I see it. It starts with me.

Charley Williams, Voting  Advocate

Valada Flewellyn’s Pledge:

I pledge to support my white neighbors, colleagues, friends and family who are courageous enough to pledge themselves to ending racism in this country.  I pledge to listen to, to pray, not to hold either the white race or my own race harmless for how long we have allowed this evil to exist in our society to the detriment of our children.

Valada Flewellyn, Poet

Addressing Our Past

First, It is imperative that we address past atrocities, which have for too long been swept beneath the rug of history — Wilmington, NC (1898), Ocoee, FL (1920), Tulsa/Greenwood, OK (1921), Rosewood, FL (1923), Groveland, FL (1951). The Equal Justice Institute’s (EJI) research shows that over a 73-year period, from 1877 to 1950, more than 4,000 racial lynchings were conducted in the South. That’s the equivalent of one lynching per day for 11 years. Enough.

We Need to Know Our Own History

The outrage is real and deep. Up until 1950, only whites could vote in a City of Orlando primary election, which was controlled by a Florida Democratic Party organization called the ‘White Voters Executive Committee.’

Our single biggest challenge is that we don’t know our own history. It’s time to face it.
This history belongs to every one of us. No one can escape. The horrific legacy of lynching and racial terror continues to haunt and plague us. White people have constructed and maintained this centuries-old institutionalized racism; therefore, it only makes sense that, with the help and cooperation of our black friends and neighbors, the whites must shoulder the brunt of the burden of dismantling it. But no one community can do this alone. We all need help from one another.

We must face our shadow stories, state our personal pledges, encourage and engage in the “courageous conversations.” Please join us now as we learn to listen, strive to learn and learn to act. Together, we can create a future that is our gift to our children and our grandchildren.

 

Valada Flewellyn is a poet and the author of “For the Children: The History of Jack and Jill of America, Incoporated.”

Charley William is past President of the Orange County League of Women Voters.

Flewellyn and Williams are Founding members of Alliance for Truth and Justice, a volunteer group started in 2015 to research the Ocoee Voting Day Massacre of 1920, in cooperation with the Equal Justice Initiative, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. More at www.ocoeemassacre.com

 

 

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Black Lives Matter in Winter Park

Black Lives Matter in Winter Park

Black Lives Matter in Winter Park

Peaceful Demonstration in Central Park

by Anne Mooney / June 11, 2020

It’s been nearly a week since demonstrators gathered peacefully on June 5 in Central Park to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to mourn the deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement officers.

A crowd of roughly 300 baked in Florida humidity and 90-degree heat. Young and old, black, brown and white, they took a knee to stand for the future they want to see.

Watchful Winter Park police officers kept a respectful distance.

After listening to speakers, several of whom were from Winter Park’s African American community, the group joined in prayer. The youthful organizer of the gathering, Adrian Bouchout, asked the crowd to remain peaceful as they turned to march out of Central Park and down Park Avenue.

The crowd marched down to Fairbanks and back up through the Hannibal Square neighborhood, finally ending up at the Public Safety Building, where protesters and police thanked one another for a peaceful and successful event.

Present at the rally were Commissioners Marty Sullivan, Sheila DeCiccio and Todd Weaver. Later in the week, Sullivan and DeCiccio sent messages to constituents.

DeCiccio Calls for Support for Police

“I believe it’s essential for our Police Department to have the support it needs,” wrote DeCiccio. She spoke with Police Chief Michael Deal, who confirmed that the Police Department adheres strictly to the following policies.

  • No chokeholds or strangleholds.
  • De-escalation is required, and officers have received special training.
  • Officers must issue a warning before firing a weapon.
  • Officers must exhaust all other means before shooting.
  • Officers have a duty to intervene when they see a breach of procedure, especially one involving excessive force.
  • Shooting at moving vehicles is prohibited.
  • All officers are required to employ the “use of force continuum.”
  • Comprehensive reporting of all incidents is required.

Chief Deal stated the WPPD has zero tolerance toward police brutality.

The body cameras that were approved last year by the city commission arrived just as the COVID19 crisis hit, so the department is still in the process of training officers on their use. Deal said, “Everyone is looking forward to wearing their cameras.”

Sullivan Calls on Winter Park to Support All of Its Citizens

In his message to constituents, Commissioner Marty Sullivan wrote, “We have outlawed government mistreatment of minorities, but we have yet to exterminate racism.”

He called on the city to hold a referendum on single-member districts, to provide participation from all neighborhoods in city government, to reflect citizen desires with Advisory Board appointments and Commission decisions and to provide infrastructure support for all neighborhoods.

“Peaceful gatherings across the country show that we still care,” wrote Sullivan, “we still love our fellow citizens, and we ask, rather demand, that entrenched racism be defeated. Most Americans desire this, and I believe that continuing nonviolent action will bring about this needed change.”

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WP Masker Aid

WP Masker Aid

WP Masker Aid

Winter Park Masks Strong Unmasks WP Generosity

by Anne Mooney / May 22, 2020

In a feel-good story all its own, two former arch-rivals, Kim Allen and Sandy Womble, have joined forces to lead a loosely organized, organically grown group of local volunteers to sew and distribute cotton masks. It’s called Winter Park Masks Strong. According to the mask makers, together Kim and Sandy form “the glue” that holds the effort together and keeps it moving. They even have a Facebook page – Winter Park FL Masks Strong. Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/228128931582495/

Two Hundred Masks?

Ruth Heine

It began for Ruth Heine on March 22nd, when she received a call from Father John Bluett of St. Stephens. He knew Ruth was an accomplished seamstress and he asked if she would sew some cotton masks — 200 of them – for Seminole County Health Department healthcare workers.

Ruth said, at first, she couldn’t conceive of making so many masks. She consulted YouTube, found the information she needed and whipped out those 200 masks in two or three days. Gaining momentum, Ruth called her friends and began taking requests for masks. She then sent an email blast to the Orlando Garden Club to offer masks.

Almost 1,000 Masks Later . . .

Initially, the masks were made from materials Ruth had on hand. Soon, however, she found materials, especially quarter-inch flat elastic, difficult to find. Word of the shortage reached Pat Estes, who had retreated to Kentucky to be near family during the pandemic. Pat went to her local sewing supply store, found 28 yards of elastic and sent it to Ruth. In a gesture of gratitude, Ruth sent 35 masks to Pat’s daughter-in-law’s veterinary practice in upstate New York. As of this writing, Ruth had made just over 900 masks.

“I will probably hit 1,000 masks if the demand continues and the need is still there,” she said. “I can make about 25 a day. The most I’ve done is around 40.” Recently Winter Park Masks Strong delivered 130 of Ruth’s masks to workers at Vitas Hospice.

Winter Park Masks Strong

Kim Allen and Sandy Womble brought Ruth into their Winter Park Masks Strong group of 15 or 16 men and women who are making masks for people and organizations all over the city. The group describes itself as a band of Winter Park residents who care deeply for our community. A letter included with each bag of masks delivered states, “These masks are for you from our tribe.”

Members of the Tribe Come and Go

Usually, says Kim Allen, when one steps out another steps in to take his or her place. Pannullo’s and Armando’s restaurants got masks made by Melody Cortez from the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. A la Scarlet O’Hara, Melody made over 200 masks out of black curtains she had on hand. Patty Pope made 52 masks for the Winter Park Day Nursery, which stayed open to care for children of essential workers. Christine Girand started making masks, and soon enlisted the help of Jan Hommel and other neighbors.

Ad Hoc Group of Volunteers

Peter Gottfried Gets Some Help from Sponge Bob

People who don’t sew also help. Kim Burst Wood donated designer fabric. Melanie Love and Missy Cassell-Hamby donated bolts of fabric. Kim Allen and Peter Gottfried have cut over 30 yards of fabric. Some volunteers cut, some sew and some deliver.

At first, everyone was doing their own thing, depending upon which YouTube video they consulted. People raided their own supplies of fabric, elastic and thread. The materials acquisition part of the effort sent volunteers on nation-wide searches for supplies. Materials came from friends as far away as Oklahoma and Kentucky. Masculine-looking fabric was in high demand, especially after Melody Cortez ran out of black curtains.

 

Mask Design Becomes Standardized

Now volunteers are making one pattern with pleats. The pattern comes from the Sewing Studio in Maitland. The fabric, elastic and nose pieces come in kits to be assembled by sewers. Fabric is washed and pre-shrunk and put into cellophane envelopes along with elastic. Two different fabric patterns ensure the wearer knows which side should go toward the face.

City Hall Workers Get Peacock Masks

Kim Allen and Sandy Womble provided masks made of peacock fabric to Winter Park City Hall workers. Retired Advent Health nurse Trudy Mitchell delivered masks to workers from ANGCO Highway Stripping who were working on the I-4 Ultimate.

Ruth Heine, who will quantify anything, says, “You can get two masks out of one yard of elastic. Two yards of 44-inch-wide fabric will yield 24 masks. All of this is by word of mouth,” she went on. “People I don’t even know have contacted me. I even did a mask for a four-year-old.”

“You’d have thought I was handing out $50 bills!”

Kim Allen recalls walking along Park Avenue, offering masks to restaurant workers who were filling to-go orders. “You’d have thought I was handing out fifty-dollar bills,” she said. “Those people were just thrilled to get masks.” Kim ended up handing out masks to workers at places including Prato, Luma, Umi, Panera, Carrie’s Café and Go Gelato.

Pandemic Politics

When she was asked about the controversy that has arisen about wearing masks, Kim replied simply, “You wear your seatbelt when you drive, don’t you?”

“I feel this is one thing we have in common – to keep each other safe – regardless of our other beliefs,” said Ruth Heine.

3,000 Masks Later

Since March, this group of volunteers has made and distributed nearly 3,000 masks. It has all been by word of mouth. WP Masks Strong is not incorporated, but they will accept donations, as materials are surprisingly expensive. A single spool of thread, for instance, can cost as much as $5.00. To donate, contact kimberleallen@gmail.com

Or go to their Facebook page, Winter Park FL Masks Strong, and say thanks.

 

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