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UWF Offers Free Community Course On Race, With Local Race Experts

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Kugelman Honors Program

The University of West Florida is offering a free community course titled: “Race and the Community: Past, Present, and Our Future.” The five-week online series will feature a session every Thursday in October, beginning tomorrow at 6 p.m.

“We’re going to have guests from the local community, who are experts on different topics, to talk to us about race in Pensacola and the surrounding community,” said Professor Greg Tomso, director of the Kugelman Honors Program at UWF, which is presenting the course.

“I came up with the idea for this course, as the first wave of protests around racial justice and police violence were unfolding across the country earlier this summer. It struck me that as a university, we really should have a response and I thought that the Kugelman Honors Program could offer a class that looked at these issues but in particular how they pertained to our community.”

Scott Satterwhite, an instructor from the UWF Department of English, will use his knowledge of race history in the Pensacola area to serve as host and moderator for each session of the course, which launches this Thursday.

The first session is “A Black People’s History of Pensacola.”

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Credit Kugelman Honors Program
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Kugelman Honors Program
Local historian Teniade Broughton will present the Week 1 session, "A Black People's History of Pensacola."

“It’s going to be with Teniade Broughton. Many people know her in the community and she has a lot of historical expertise. We’re super excited to have that historical framework to set the tone for the rest of the classes,” Dr. Tomso said.

The second session is called “Black Poets and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” and it will feature Quincy Hull, a local poet.

“He’s going to talk about the role of the arts in our community and how it is that political protests and activism combine with the arts to help communities express issues that are ongoing,” continued Tomso.

The Week 3 offering on October 15 is “Telling Our Stories: Black Voices in the Media,” with documentary filmmaker Jackie Olive.

“Jackie Olive is a mover and a shaker in the documentary film community and is going to talk about how the media can shape representations of black lives and how it is that the media plays a role in our understanding of these events in our own communities,” he said.

The fourth session in the series is with Indigo Lett and it’s called “Black Trans Lives Matter: The Movement for Recognition and Survival. “

“We’re really committed to trying to understand the epidemic of violence against transgender people of color,” Tomso explained. “In the United States there have, there’s been a big spike in hate crimes against black transgendered people and in the number of murders that have taken place. And, we are trying to draw attention to this particular aspect of black life and trying to shine some light on the violence that attends to being transgender.”

According to Tomso, the last session in the course will come back to the ongoing national debate over equal rights and criminal justice for blacks and other people of color.

“Our final class in the series is “The Fight for Racial Justice and the Future of Our Community” and that will be with Hale Morrissette,” stated Tomso. “And, that is going to be sort of a wrap-up session. We’re going to talk about police violence. We’re going to talk about racial justice. We’re going to talk about how it is that we build and restore equality in the community.”

Tomso says this particular series is part of a larger equity and diversity initiative started in the Kugelman Honors Program some years ago.

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Credit Kugelman Honors Program
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Kugelman Honors Program
Dr. Greg Tomso is director of the UWF Kugelman Honors Program.

“We’re searching for ways, both within the curriculum, in our public programming, in our admissions and recruitment, to make sure we’re providing equal access to underrepresented students and to make sure we bring to light issues that haven’t traditionally been covered as part of some university curriculum,” he noted.

Further, Tomso described this new “Race and the Community” course is a pilot project of sorts. It’s offered to the community without charge, open to some UWF students for credit, and testing the waters with a new online, webinar format.

“I think it can be a really good opportunity to engage our community in new ways and to reach people who may not be able to come to campus,” he said.

Community members can sign up by going to the Kugelman Honors webpage, uwf.edu/honors, and clicking on the registration banner. Each session will last about an hour. Individuals can attend as many of the sessions as they like and there will be an opportunity to catch up with ones they may have missed.