ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A group of local colleges and universities is banding together to try to combat the issue of racial injustice. The effort is a part of an even larger goal they’re hoping will impact the entire community.

What You Need To Know

  • Four area colleges and universities have come together to battle the issue of racial injustice
  • Stetson College of Law, University of South Florida- St. Pete campus, St. Pete College and Eckerd College are all involved
  • Among other things, the group plans to educate the higher education community about the Black history of St. Petersburg

Stetson College of Law, University of South Florida—St. Pete campus, St. Pete College and Eckerd College are a part of a consortium and plan to participate in a work shop later this month called Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation for guidance on how to develop an action plan.

“It is a capacity building workshop. We will learn there are some 28 existing campus centers on universities across the country that are implementing this framework on their campuses,” USF Assistant to the Regional Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Caryn Nesmith said. “We brought leaders to the table throughout St. Pete and throughout higher ed institutions. And we’re looking at identifying what gaps there were and what ways we could serve the community in a stronger way.”

So how will that impact students and staff at these higher education institutions?

“At St. Petersburg College they will definitely see it in the classroom. They will see it in the people we hire. The will see it all around St. Petersburg, the community work that we do,” said St. Pete College’s Equity Diversion and Inclusion Director, Devona Pierre.

That plan will also include educating those in the higher education community about the Black history of St. Petersburg, like the race riots of the 90s, the pain that they left and the path forward.

“The people that experienced the things that happened in the 1990s in St. Petersburg are still there and some of those wounds have not yet healed,” said Pierre.

And that’s where the healing component of the program comes in.

Each school plans to use their strengths whether it’s law, environmental justice or community work.

“We’re accountable for teaching young people and educating young people for telling the history of our community, of our world, so we are on the hook for shaping minds,” said Nesmith. “I think this is one initiative of many that collectively build to a better future. “

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