Community Conversation to address race, county history

Staff Writer
Santa Rosa's Press Gazette

MILTON — The Santa Rosa Community Remembrance Project Coalition will host Community Conversations, an ongoing dialogue discussing issues relating to race and ethnicity in Santa Rosa County and our world at large.

This is the second in a series of conversations aimed at better understanding our roles in anti-racism and how to acknowledge our historical inheritance.

The event is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. March 26 in the Student Center of Pensacola State College, 5988 U.S. Highway 90, Milton.

The coalition is a group of like-minded organizations and individuals who wish to recognize the victims of lynching in Santa Rosa County between 1867 and 1950. Working in partnership with Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, Alabama, the group conducts research to determine the identity of victims, the circumstances of the extra-legal executions, and when and where they occurred.

“Our goals are to document and tell the stories of the lynchings, to collect soil from lynching sites for display at The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, to erect a Historical Marker for the victims of lynching in Santa Rosa County, and display the Memorial Monument currently housed at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice,” a spokesperson stated in a media release for the event.

Dr. Darlene Mosley, associate professor of psychology at Pensacola State College, organized the coalition, which includes the LEAP Committee of the Milton City Council, the NAACP of Santa Rosa County, the Santa Rosa Democratic Black Caucus, and the Santa Rosa Historical Society. It includes representatives from Mt. Pilgrim African Baptist Church, Milton First United Methodist Church, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church as well as the African-American Student Association of Pensacola State College.

Each partner in the Coalition arrived with different stories, but underlying them all was a deep desire to discover the truth about lynchings in our county and to tell that truth in an atmosphere of transparency.

“We believe the time has come to acknowledge this part of our legacy. We do not desire to accuse or condemn anyone involved in the act of lynching,” a spokesperson stated in a media release for the event. “Here in the South, we grew up with the Covered Dish dinner. It was a time to remember and to celebrate.”

The Coalition wishes to invite everyone to “Come to the Table” to tell the secrets, listen to the stories, and redeem our shame; to remember the past and celebrate all that the future holds. The Community Conversations are an opportunity to meet together and discuss these issues of our past while looking forward to our future.