BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — A group of Bay County teachers, artists, and non-profit leaders have started a series of discussions called ‘Healing A history of Hurt’ in wake of national events that have significantly impacted communities.
They hope through sharing their stories they will encourage other Bay County residents to give voice to their stories for future generations.
“It is very important because part of the ‘history of hurt,’ is the pretense that things aren’t as bad or things didn’t happen,” said Janice Lucas the LEAD Coalition Director in Bay County. “Or we didn’t have those problems here. We are in the South, and I was born into a segregated society.”
Lucas said she remembers attending first grade in a segregated school within Bay County. She said it is time to grow past that.
“Those of us who have suffered in silence,” said Lucas. “Whether we be white or black, or any other ethnicity or race — it is time to talk about it.”
Dr. Melinda Stephenson a professor at Florida State University Panama City, got together with Lucas to develop conversations and share stories.
“Our goal is for people of all races and colors to come together and learn about each other,” said Stephenson.
Through previous meetings, members of the community have shared stories about their painful pasts, while others listened and shared theirs.
“It is a very hard conversation starter to talk about race, why do you think that is?” said a Bay County resident who joined into the meeting Thursday evening.
“Reconciliation has to be a two-way street,” said another resident.
Other unnamed Bay County residents also spoke out:
“To be faced with the task of acknowledging the harm that you have caused indirectly. Is extremely uncomfortable,” said one.
“How can we find some common ground? We are all stressed and fearful right now,” said another.
Lucas said one of the major ways to heal a ‘history of hurt’ is to talk about issues together, not going through social media platforms. Her hope is to impact the area of Bay County with this ongoing series.