"Racial Tension" Workshop Focuses On "Black Lives Matter"

Oct 19, 2016

The second in a series of community workshops titled “Racial Tension: Cooling the Fires” is set for this Thursday, October 20, in downtown Pensacola. The event will be held at the J. Earle Bowden Building, 120 Church Street, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

The "Black Lives Matter" movement began in Florida in 2012 after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Credit Tre'Von Ware / University of West Florida

The workshops were initiated by the UWF Department of Social Work to focus on systemic racial problems in Escambia County.

Julie Patton, an instructor in thedepartment, is one of the driving forces behind the workshops and led off the series last month with a presentation on “Social Inequality and Privilege in Escambia County: Why Tensions are so High.”

This month, the discussion will center on “Black Lives Matter.”

“We feel this is an important national movement, that in many ways is misunderstood,” Patton said. “That people assume you can’t be sympathetic with “Black Lives Matter” and support the police at the same time but, of course, you can. Those are not mutually exclusive attitudes.”

Presenters will include Teniade’ Broughton, who will discuss the “Creation and Legacy of Jim Crow in Pensacola.” Local activists Hailey Morrisette and Keyontay Humphries founded “From Pensacola, With Love” as an extension of the local Black Lives Matter Movement and will help foster an understanding of “Black Lives Matter” and “What’s Wrong with All Lives Matter?”

Humphries also will discuss “How National Events Contribute to the Narrative of Oppression,” specifically detailing the police shootings of black civilians and the formation of “Black Lives Matter.”

“The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is one that focuses on justice, but isn’t just about criminal justice,” Humphries said. “It’s about justice across the board for people of color, particularly African Americans.”

In further defining her objective at the workshop, Humphries explained that people need to understand that “Black Lives Matter” is a movement, and not just a singular event. “This isn’t just about just Michael Brown or just Trayvon Martin or just Sandra Bland. This is a movement. And, this is this generation’s civil rights movement and they’re coming at it unapologetically, as they are,” she said.

Reverend Julie Kain from the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pensacola will act as facilitator and also will discuss whether supporting “Black Lives Matter” means being anti-police.

Local activists Keyontay Humphries and Rev. Julie Kain will be presenters at the second "Racial Tension: Cooling the Fires" community workshop Thursday, Oct. 20, in downtown Pensacola.
Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

“We recognize that the police have a very difficult job in our country,” said Rev. Kain. “It’s gotten progressively harder to do, especially with poverty, and the lack of access to mental health, and the lack of access to education and employment. They’re kind of forced into a really difficult situation.”

Kain agrees with Humphries’ assessment that “Black Lives Matter” is not just about the police, but the entire criminal justice system.

“There’s a lot of awareness that needs to happen,” said Kain, referring to white people across the country whose lives are not affected the same way and have a hard time believing the level of institutional bias that happens regularly in African American Communities.