Connect with us


‘National Day of Racial Healing’ spurs frank discussions of race in Brevard County



Local religious and education leaders, public figures, activists and residents from across Brevard County met Tuesday night at the Catherine Schweinsberg Rood Central Library in Cocoa to talk race.

What emerged from the dialogue was a sense that the very notion of community, on the Space Coast and across the country, is under assault. The way forward, participants decided, is that it’s up to individuals in the community to pull it back from the brink.

“The divisions, the separation, the us-versus-them in our country right now, it shouldn’t be that way,” said Herman Cole, Titusville city councilman and chair of the Humanity Task Force for Social Justice. “Some of our minds have been poisoned by the rhetoric that is going on. We’ve got to find some way to change that.”

More:Black and Jewish: Overcoming the darkness of bigotry with light of Hanukkah

About 50 people attended the event, organized as part of the National Day of Racial Healing initiative and sponsored by the Humanity Task Force and the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex Board of Directors.

The National Day of Racial Healing, held each year on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is a nationwide project by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to jumpstart community dialogues on how to bridge growing racial and political divisions in cities and counties across the U.S.

In that sense, Cole said, Tuesday’s event in Cocoa was a wild success.

Racial experiences shared by audience members varied widely, but there was a common sense that Tuesday’s event — which even participants acknowledged brought together a mixed race but mostly older and like-minded crowd — was the easy work. The hard work, they said, was outside the room.

More:MLK Day evokes messages of equality, freedom during Cocoa peace march and speeches

“Racial healing means having the courage in the comfort of your own home, in the comfort of your own enclaves, wherever that may be, to talk to that one that looks like you that has another thought, racially,” said panelist David E. Bryant, senior pastor at the Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Cocoa.

“It’s one thing for us to talk in here, but what about your best friend? What about your brothers? Your sister? Your aunt and uncle, father, mother? Have you had that conversation with them?”

Audience members at a National Day of Racial Healing event in Cocoa on Tuesday broke into small groups to discuss their own experiences with race and brainstorm ways to overcome racial and political divisions in the community.

Bill Gary, chair of the Moore Complex Board of Directors, said he hoped the event would inspire attendees to bring the dialogue to other local groups, and spread throughout Brevard County the message that civility and understanding about race — with a keen eye toward honesty — was essential to the future of the country.

“We can disagree and still be civil. We’ve lost that. And as a nation, that is dangerous,” Gary said. “That is a danger to democracy.”

Eric Rogers is a watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Rogers at 321-242-3717 or Follow him on Twitter: @EricRogersFT.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply