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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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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