2019 Race and Culture Lecture Series

Project Partner:
Polk County History Center
Contract Period:
December 15, 2018 – December 15, 2019
Amount Awarded:
$5,000
Region Served:
Region 4 - East Central Florida
Categories

With the assistance of a $5,000 Community Project Grant from Florida Humanities, the Polk County History Center hosted a captivating lecture series from February to June of 2019 on Race and Culture at the Polk County History Center. Over the span of five months, six speakers presented to an array of community members on topics of racial awareness and cultural diversity. Each speaker had experience with leading groups through difficult and uncomfortable conversations dealing with race and cultural differences. The lectures encouraged and, at times, required the audience members to participate in the discussion, compelling most to contribute to the community conversation. The speaker would break the audience up into small groups and let them share their stories, inciting interactions between strangers. One of the speakers, Carrie Sue Ayvar, captured the essence of the lectures when she said, “It’s hard to hate someone whose story you know.” Through sharing their stories, the opportunity for community dialogue and connection led to the appreciation of diversity for those around them. Due to the positive reactions to the series, the Polk County History Center experienced an increase in visitors and gained new friends.

For this series, Polk County History Center partnered with multiple community partners, including Bartow’s Community Relations Committee, Pastor Melissa Stump, and award winning Playwright and professional engineer Gretchen Suarez-Pena. Pastor Melissa Stump was the first speaker of the series and participated in every lecture after that. She garnered audience participation by facilitating dialogue between the audience members. In return, most stayed late to continue the discussion. For the end of the series, Gretchen Suarez-Pena and actors provided a stage reading of her play, “Conversations in Bed,” a performance about the conversations couples have before going to bed, including racial and generational topics. The play summed up the series perfectly.

With the success of the series, the Polk County History Center continues to incorporate these stories of diversity and inclusion into future programming and exhibits. They want to tell the story of Americans from all different backgrounds, within the historic and vibrant atmosphere of the History Center where visitors and residents can experience the diverse voices of the community.

Partner Spotlight

Partner: Polk County History Center

Project Director: Myrtice Young

About the Partner Organization: The Polk County History Center dedicates itself to sharing the history of Polk County with its community. Located in the historic 1908 courthouse on Main Street in Bartow, FL, the museum contains a research and genealogical library, two floors of permanent and changing exhibits, and two historic courtrooms. They have partnered with Florida Humanities on multiple occasions such as Museum on Main Street (MOMS) Crossroads, MOMS The Way We Worked, Florida Stories and a Heritage Trail.

“The entire grant process, from submitting the proposal through closing the grant was simple and smooth. After completing the process, I can now say that this has been very easy and stress free!”

— Project Director

“The entire grant process, from submitting the proposal through closing the grant was simple and smooth. After completing the process, I can now say that this has been very easy and stress free!”

— Project Director