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Equity Tallahassee Leon addresses racial divide in Capital City

Local coalition aims to address racial injustice
Equity Tallahassee Leon Launch
Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 18:46:33-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A new initiative in Leon County hopes to bring people of different races and walks of life together.

The Equity Tallahassee Leon coalition was coordinated by Whole Child Leon to implement substantial and lasting change in Leon County. Courtney Atkins is the Executive Director of Whole Child Leon.

"We want to make sure that race and ethnicity are no longer predictors of life outcomes," said Atkins.

Standing on the Smokey Hollow memorial, which was once one of Leon County's few African American neighborhoods, county and city leaders launched an initiative to bring communities together through conversation.

"Equity has to do with providing and distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients. We want all of our children in Leon County to reach their full potential by having all of the resources to do so," said Atkins.

Miaisha Mitchell was born in Smoky Hollow. She is vocal in the city when it comes to issues that impact African Americans. She says these conversations are what it takes to make sure everyone feels like they belong.

"Those experiences dating back to the '60s when we moved from Smokey Hollow have followed me through my time here in Tallahassee. I'm so excited to see that today we're here talking about equity," said Mitchell.

She says the changes that wiped out her neighborhood left long-lasting impacts that she sees in the African-American community today.

"I was born in Smokey Hollow on the other side of the bridge across from the transportation department. That's the original area. Today, I'm working to continue to look at the issues that impacted me as a child. One of those issues is displacement," said Mitchell.

That's one of the reasons the coalition is focused on bridging the racial divide in Leon county today. Shonda Knight is the Executive Director of Community and Media Relations for the Leon County Sheriff's Office. She's also a member of the coalition.

"We are a lot more alike than we are different. Society has worked hard to polarize us. Suggest that we choose sides. At the end of the day we're all human beings," said Knight.

The coalition includes Knight, Atkins, Mitchell, Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, Dr. Michelle Gayle with Leon County Schools, Deputy City Manager Cynthia Barber, Claudia P. Blackburn with the Leon County Health Department, Amanda Handley and Drew Piers with the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter, and City of Tallahassee Diversity and Inclusion Director Angela Hendrieth.

For people who do get out and have those conversations, the task force is asking you to share them. You can upload your videos on their new site which launched Wednesday.