Building an Equity Movement
Today’s social change advocates can learn a great deal from stories about people who have previously stood together to challenge the status quo and fight for equity. Far from an exhaustive account of Pinellas County’s history, this overview is an evolving project that serves as an entry point for education, understanding, and further exploration.Watch the Full Documentary
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Building Everything But Wealth
Although Black labor was critical to the development of St. Petersburg, Black people were forced to live in certain segregated neighborhoods in order to distance them from White neighborhoods, tourists, and downtown businesses. Segregation, redlining, and other racist policies severely damaged Black people’s ability to build intergenerational wealth.
Lynching in St. Petersburg
From Reconstruction until the Civil Rights movement, White people carried out lynchings as a way to terrorize, punish, and control Black people. According to the NAACP, between 1900 and 1930, Florida had the highest ratio of lynchings of any state in the country. There were at least three extrajudicial lynchings carried out on the streets of St. Petersburg, and no one was ever held accountable for these murders.
Sports & School Desegregation
At a time when public spaces, neighborhoods, and classrooms were racially segregated, the basketball court was one of the first places in Pinellas County that integrated Black and White high school students. Their 1966 game against Clearwater High, a White school, garnered the largest crowd to ever witness a Florida high school basketball game.
Combatting Racist Representation
Media plays a powerful role in shaping public opinion and our understanding of ourselves and others. Across generations, mainstream media has consistently misrepresented, omitted, and dismissed Black people and people of color, doubling down on racist stereotypes and tropes rather than include people of color in the creative process.
Integrating Public Spaces
Although Black labor contributed significantly to the growth of St. Petersburg, Black people were not welcome in the city they built. Racial and social segregation was strictly enforced and at one time St. Pete was one of the most residentially segregated cities in the country.
Segregated healthcare meant that for decades, there were no hospitals or doctors in St. Petersburg that would treat Black patients. Because of this, midwifery, nurses, and volunteers were an important means of healthcare for Black residents well into the twentieth century, providing maternity services and general medical care to much of the Black community.
A Hidden Minority
Despite the varied experiences, people experiencing homelessness are a hidden and often-ignored minority in our society. Many Americans are only a few missed paychecks away from experiencing homelessness themselves, and yet local policies and practices speak a message of stigmatization and criminalization, rather than support.
(Some) Women Get the Vote
In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, securing the right to vote for White women. Although Black suffragists played important roles in helping push for the Nineteenth Amendment, many national suffrage associations accepted funding from and worked alongside white supremacists, accommodating racism to win White southern supporters.
Accessibility for Everyone
Like so many others, the disability rights movement adopted many of the strategies of the civil rights movement in order to make change. Years of organizing, lawsuits, demonstrations, and broadened awareness and understanding have made public and private space more accessible to people with disabilities, but there is still work to be done.
LGBTQ+ Rights & the Social Movements Behind Them
From the Stonewall uprising to the streets of St. Pete, the right to live and celebrate an LGBTQ+ identity has, and continues to be a fight for equality. Even in our relatively safe city, LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination in policy and practice, and queer people of color face even greater challenges than their White counterparts, even in inclusive spaces.