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  • Writer's pictureEqual Ground

LWVOC Panel to Discuss Fight for African American History and Culture on Feb. 14

Media Contact: Diana Smith, 407-948-2733


League of Women Voters of Orange County “Hot Topics” Lunch Series

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2024) — African American history and culture has been under attack in Florida in recent years. As we celebrate Black History Month, join the League of Women Voters of Orange County on Wednesday Feb. 14 for the Hot Topics, “Lift Every Voice: The Fight for African American History and Culture.” The panel discussion will take place at 11:45 a.m. at the Winter Park Events Center, 1050 W. Morse Blvd in Winter Park.


The moderator is Jasmine Burney-Clark, consulting director and founder of the Equal Ground Education Fund and Action Fund, a civic engagement organization that focuses on voter registration, education and turnout. The panelists are Valada Flewellyn, author, poet, historian and storyteller; Dr. LaVon W. Bracy, author and civil rights champion who was the first

African American to graduate from Gainesville High School, and LeRoy Pernell, law professor and former dean of the Florida A&M University College of Law. State Sen. Geraldine Thompson will join by video. Dr. Ethel Wellington-Trawick, a retired educator, will open the program with the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Originally written as a poem by Florida native James Weldon Johnson, the song is known as the Black National Anthem.


Desmond Reid, owner of DARE Books, one of the few multicultural bookstores remaining in Florida, will have a display of banned books available for purchase at the Hot Topics. You also can contribute to the Banned Book Drive by bringing a banned book to the forum to add to the collection. All books will be distributed throughout the year at community events. A

list of banned books can be found at Banned Book List: 3,362 Books Banned in 2022-2023 - PEN America.


As we prepare for the 2024 elections, the public affairs forum and lunch will explore what voters can do to fight back against erosion of African American history and culture. The panel will discuss recent laws and rules enacted by Florida: 

  • The Stop WOKE act, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which restricts lessons and training on race and diversity in schools and in the workplace. The state recently barred public universities from using state and federal funds for DEI programs.

  • A law that prohibits the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 classrooms, which DeSantis said would end “corporate and educational indoctrination in Florida.”

  • The state Department of Education rejected an Advanced Placement high school elective course on African American history, saying it “significantly lacks educational value.”

  •  Florida also has adopted new social studies and history standards that have been criticized as watering down African American history.

  •  A Florida law that allows parents to question whether books with sexual content should be available to K-12 students, resulting in hundreds of books being pulled for review, including many by African American authors.


Tickets are $30 for League members, $37 non-members. Register at www.LWVOC.org/HotTopics Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch begins. The program starts promptly at 11:45 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m. Hot Topics is streamed live on the League’s

Facebook page Facebook and is available for viewing live on the League’s YouTube channel.


League of Women Voters Orange County - YouTube


Visionary sponsors: Phil and Jennifer Anderson. Bronze sponsors: Lyn and David Berelsman and Voting Voices — Michele Levy, Charley Williams, and Laurie and Richard Wack.


The League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida, is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.


League of Women Voters of Orange County, FL, P.O. Box 1901, Winter Park, FL 32790, 407-735-6540.

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