Uncovering Central Florida's Black History

Kaitlyn Kelley, Project Coordinator

In recognition of Black History Month, I had the privilege of attending the Florida Public Relations Association Orlando Chapter event “Continually Unfolding Story: Central Florida’s Black History."

Held at the Orange County Regional History Center and led by Executive Director Pamela Schwartz, the presentation delved into 500 years of Black history in Central Florida, shedding light on significant events and the center's ongoing efforts to decolonize its collections.

Pamela shared insights into pivotal moments, ranging from the Ocoee massacre and the desegregation of Orange County to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2012. Her visually captivating presentation unveiled historical photos, providing a new perspective on Orange County's diverse history.

Pamela didn't just inform. She also raised awareness about the crucial need for decolonization in museums. The Orange County Regional History Center is actively reorganizing its exhibits to ensure that Black history is integrated into the broader historical narrative. The Orange County Regional History Center's meticulous attention to these details is commendable to both the institution and its dedicated staff, who are ensuring the accurate portrayal of historical events.

During the Q&A session, many attendees asked questions and discussed the media's role in Central Florida’s Black history. Pamela provided a poignant reminder: authentic engagement with a city requires a deep understanding of its history. The most impactful action communication and public relations professionals can take is to foster conversations. Sustaining these discussions is vital in supporting history centers like these that are dedicated to sharing the stories of Black citizens in Florida.

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