Lift Every Voice: Courageous Conversations About Race

This video series was recorded in 2020, an unprecedented year in so many ways. It provided an opportunity for us to examine racism, injustice, and discrimination as we never had before. To gain a better understanding, we listened to the stories of people of color as they experienced these trials. We also listened to white people to better understand how racism is learned in society. The videos provide valuable insight into what must change for us to move toward the promise of liberty and justice for all.

Ann Pointer shares a poignant story of her life with a middle school friend. The two of them “got in trouble” and Ann remembers them being equally culpable in making the decision. Upon being discovered, Ann was given an out to place the blame on her friend. She said that to this day, she is haunted by this decision. Ann’s story illustrates how we are all infected by racism and demonstrates the need for us to strive to learn from past mistakes to make a better future for us all.

Anthony White shares an experience from his childhood that resulted in an interaction with the police. What happened and what he learned from it have caused him to caution his children that they might not be able to do what others do because of the color of their skin. He has helped them navigate through the society they live in and remains optimistic that good people outnumber those who fail to see the value in others.

Berton Newbill tells the story of being in the military and being denied the recognition of his rank due to the color of his skin.  His initial reaction was anger because the men causing the problem were not looking at him from a military perspective, but judging him as a person who was not deserving of respect. Later, friends tried to deny his personal experience. Berton says it was even more hurtful that his friends didn’t believe him. Sharing his story allows for a broader conversation so we get to an acknowledgement that these situations exist.

Doretha Edgecomb shares the impact of growing up in the Jim Crow era and realizing the limitations placed on her hopes, dreams and aspirations based on the color of her skin. She relates the story of a college classmate who was brutally beaten simply for sitting in a bus station waiting room. In response, Doretha and her classmates organized a march to protest the attack. She realized that for things to be different, she would have to speak up, stand up and be a voice of change. Though progress has been made, we haven’t come as far as she had hoped. Change can come through legislation, but she believes that true change begins with changes in the human heart and mind.

Doretha Edgecomb is a lifelong resident of Tampa, apart from her years at a small college in Alabama. She was educated in the segregated school system during the Jim Crow years, then returned to education as a teacher, principal and member of the Hillsborough County School Board. Doretha shares her poem, “Being Black,” which speaks to her life experiences in segregated schools and society.

John Day shares a story from his youth where his mother explained the difference in describing white and black women. He accepted that as the way things were then. He also describes a current day event where he invited four men experiencing homelessness and a coworker for Christmas dinner. He shares concern for his grandson, who is black, and the need to have “the talk” with him as he gets older. John admits to not being very optimistic that we can make progress with racial injustice. For him, it begins with seeing each other as a human being then getting together to talk through these issues.

Rick Cabigas shares his experience of being on a business trip with two colleagues. At their hotel, the valets were of Filipino descent like Rick. He was approached by another hotel guest who mistakenly assumed he was a valet based on his appearance. He became very angry at the guest’s assumption. While his white colleague didn’t understand, his black colleague completely understood. Rick concludes by saying it’s everyone’s duty to make sure we move forward together.

Pastor Steve Nunn shares reflections of racial bias from his days in middle school and during a visit to the beach at Pensacola. In both cases, he was shocked at the interactions. His family was raised to be kind to others. In stark contrast, he tells the story of his great-grandfather, Julius Perry, who was lynched during the Ocoee (FL) election riots in 1920. Julius was wounded and arrested when white men came to his house. He was then taken from the jail in Orlando and lynched. Stephen’s hope is that we will be able to realize our prejudices are due to a lack of knowledge and that we can create change by educating future generations.