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Politics / Issues

Structural racism has long been a part of St. Petersburg. City Council is ready to help change that

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The report also recommended creating a more fair future in the city by creating a new equity department in the Mayor's Office and creating a permanent resident race equity board.

Last week, the council approved the findings of a $50,000 study by the University of South Florida that revealed health, economic and educational disparities between the city's white and Black residents.

St. Petersburg has a long history of structural racism.

Now the city’s council is officially acknowledging the area's history of racism– and how it permeates into the present.

Last week, the Council voted 5-3 to approve the findings of a $50,000 study by the University of South Florida that revealed health, economic and educational disparities between the city's white and Black residents.

The study chronicles inequality and segregation issues that began when the first black settler came to the city in 1868, WUSF previously reported.

The report also recommended creating a more fair future in the city by creating a new equity department in the Mayor's Office and creating a permanent resident race equity board. Potential reparations include affordable housing initiatives.

As a Black woman who grew up in St. Pete--Councilwoman Deborah Figgs-Sanders said she's not surprised by the findings. She saw her neighborhood sliced by the interstate, the church she was baptized in torn down.

But she's hopeful that the city can have tough conversations about this racism and work together to address it.

“It gives me hope that we will be able to work collectively together to address some of these issues that so many of us have lived our whole lives.”

Figgs-Sanders said accepting the study provides a foundation for improving St. Petersburg.

"When you says that it's a welcoming city it's going to have to be welcoming for everyone that lives here," she explained.

Figgs-Sanders said a lot of community input is needed before anything about reparations is decided.

"It's not going to happen over night. The racism didn't happen over night. The study, the compilation of all those findings didn't happen overnight."

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