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Groups work to bring markers memorializing lynching victims to Tampa Bay

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 18:17:20-04

Coalitions on both sides of Tampa Bay are working to honor the victims of racial lynchings.

Organizations in St. Petersburg and Tampa are working through the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project to install markers.

“It’s very important to remember history. Many people find it very painful to talk about African American history and there’s certain aspects of it that I find painful also. But I think that we have to recognize that some very horrific things occurred to Black Americans,” said Jacqueline Williams Hubbard, the co-chair of the Community Remembrance Project Coalition in St. Petersburg.

She said the marker will name two lynchings that occurred in Pinellas County.

“The main mission is to be a witness and bear witness to these horrors that occurred in the United States. To tell the truth about them and hope that the truth will result in discussions among all races and hopefully become a platform for racial reconciliation. America is desperately in need of racial reconciliation,” she said.

Coalition members said their coalition agreement was approved by EJI and that they’ve drafted language to go no a marker.

“What we’d like to do is achieve peace and reconciliation through truth-telling. Through keeping up with, making sure American history includes African American history, the histories of poor people, the histories of people of color. That American history isn’t just from the white point of view,” said Susana Darwin, the co-chair of the publicity committee.

In Tampa, a coalition is also working with EJI to make sure people learn and remember the victims of racial lynchings during the Jim Crow era.

“When we take a look at lynchings, we know that in the United States -- from the end of reconstruction to the 1930s -- it was Florida that led the country in per capita rate of lynchings,” said Councilman Luis Viera, who is part of the committee.

He said EJI already approved the project, they’re working on finalizing it.

“Number one, a good American builds bridges. Number two, a good American seeks to repair the breach as the book of Isiah says and number three, a good American seeks to make historical wrongs right. And that’s what this is about. This is about making sure that we in Hillsborough County and in the Tampa area know about all of our history," Viera said.

You can learn more about EJI’s community remembrance project here.