Roundtable on Community Change



Background and Current Efforts

The Community Foundation In Jacksonville team, which attended the Roundtable's 2005 Racial Equity and Society Seminar for community foundations, has been active on a number of fronts. One of the Peer Learning Forum members, Bill Scheu, is, among other things, the Chair of Jacksonville's Blueprint for Prosperity project. The Blueprint for Prosperity is an initiative of the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, and an organization entitled WorkSource, that launched in January of 2006 a strategic plan for increasing the per capita income of Duval County. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Mr. Scheu, not only does the plan include a special component on Racial Opportunity and Harmony, but one of the elements of that component is to "eradicate structural and institutional racism by committing to eliminate the racial/ethnic gaps in education, employment and income, neighborhoods and housing, health access and outcomes, justice and the legal system, and the political process and civic engagement." In their effort to shore up these intentions with concrete actions, the Community Foundation, in cooperation with the Blueprint for Prosperity and the Chamber of Commerce, have asked the Roundtable to facilitate a Jacksonville-specific Racial Equity and Society Seminar for Jacksonville community leaders. Additionally, as of the end of June, three more leaders from Jacksonville, all of whom were nominated by the Community Foundation, have been through our Racial Equity Seminar and will be connected through the Peer Learning Forum. The Roundtable staff is currently working with the team in Jacksonville to conduct a Jacksonville-specific seminar in 2008.

The following resources and reports from Jacksonville describe contemporary and historical efforts to promote racial equity in Jacksonville:

Quality Education For All, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, June 1, 2006.
Quality Education For All is a 10-year philanthropic initiative to improve public schools in Duval County. The initiative focuses on "building knowledge among community leaders," "learning about grantmaking with public schools," and "identifying opportunities for advocacy and public policy work." In order to develop community understanding about the issues surrounding public education, the Foundation hosted a Forum on Quality Education, which convened community leaders on issues such as demographics, history, community involvement in education, and the No Child Left Behind and Florida A+ Acts. The Foundation also worked with principals and public school representatives to determine how best to ameliorate the slide in test scores for students as they move from elementary to middle school. They petitioned middle schools for grant proposals, and allocated 55,000 dollars to six middle schools in 2006-2007. To begin the initiative's advocacy component, the Foundation polled Jacksonville's citizens to determine their stance on public education. While black and white citizens had different perceptions, there was widespread agreement on the importance of high-quality education, and dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. The Quality Education For All Initiative offers a Duval County Public Schools Timeline of Major Events 1964-2005, which details relating to race relations and racial equity.

Bill Scheu et al. "Blueprint for Prosperity." Times Union (advertising section), January 9, 2006.
The Blueprint for Prosperity outlines a strategy for fostering economic development, racial opportunity, education, infrastructure, leadership, and quality of life in Duval County, Florida. The strategy seeks to counter a downward trend in Duval in areas such as education, poverty, racial equity, and economic opportunity. The Blueprint outlines "Key Benchmarks" that the County will try to achieve in the next 10-20 years, including reversing the slide in per capita income, increasing the high school graduation rate; closing the racial/ethnic educational achievement gap; increasing the percentage of the adult population with a college degree; increasing average job earnings; increasing annual percentage job growth; reducing the general poverty level; reducing the number of areas within the County with poverty rates above 20 per cent; improving public safety; and improving healthcare. Take note of its explicit concern for issues of "racial opportunity & harmony," recognizing the need for a broad, political, social, and economic program to eliminate the subjective, institutional, and structural aspects of racism.

Race Relations: Progress Report, Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. 2006.
The second annual report assesses what further progress Jacksonville has made in the areas outlined in "Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations." In education, the racial achievement gap is closing in reading scores, but disparities continue to grow in graduation and college continuation rates. In employment and income, black unemployment rates are still double white unemployment rates, and black income is still markedly lower than white income, at 61 per cent. Black community homeownership increased, but increased use of sub prime lending sounds an alarm for the future. In health, while there has been community-wide progress in reducing death due to heart disease, cancer, and stroke, infant death rates rose, and while the rate of new HIV cases has declined, the rate of new HIV cases in the black population is seven times that of the white population. In justice and the legal system, racial disparities have shrunk in inmate admission, juvenile delinquency referral rates, and satisfaction with public services; however, disparity between white and black youths committed as delinquents has grown. In politics, the previous year's gains in voter registration and perception of political efficacy slipped, and reverted to a downward trend.

Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations, Jacksonville Community Council Inc., 2002.
Beyond the Talk is a study of race relations in Jacksonville, seeking to redress racial inequity and discrimination. The study summarizes the history of race relations in Jacksonville and offers survey data on public perception of racial inequality. The surveys reveal a continuing disparity between white and black perceptions of discrimination and other race-related issues, with black citizens perceiving far more discrimination and inequity than white citizens. The study goes onto document disparities in quantifiable aspects of quality of life, such as education, income and employment, neighborhoods and housing, criminal justice, and access to the political process. As a consequence of these disparities, the study finds that the city needs its leadership to provide a vision racial justice and inclusion. In addition, it advocates that community institutions, such as government, education, business, housing, criminal justice, and religion take on the cause of racial equity explicitly and move beyond current efforts. For example, the study suggests eliminating discriminatory lending practices, and placing public and affordable housing in non-minority areas. Beyond the Talk also proposes that black leadership make an effort to discourage and prevent self-destructive behaviors that contribute to racial disparities. Finally, the report suggests a "report card" on racial disparities that would hold government and other institutions accountable as to their efforts to improve race relations.

Race Relations: Progress Report , Jacksonville Community Council Inc., 2005.
This report assesses the progress Jacksonville has made in the areas outlined in the 2002 report, "Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations." The report finds that black and white perceptions of race relations grew more disparate since the 2002 report, with whites increasingly incognizant of racism against blacks, and increasingly upset about "reverse racism." In education, student performance in Jacksonville overall has improved, but racial disparity has grown, as white students have improved more quickly. In employment and income, the middle class black population has increased, but poverty levels, rates of public assistance, and business ownership remain heavily racially disparate. In housing, Jacksonville has made great strides toward desegregation, making it the second-least segregated city in the country; however, homeownership disparity has grown, with a decreasing percentage of black homeowners, and widespread sub-prime lending to black homeowners. Racial disproportionality continued on pace in the criminal justice system.  In politics and civic engagement, the 2004 election saw a surge in black voter registration, and a rise in black citizens' confidence in their political efficacy.

"Indicators of Racial Disparity: Sharing of Practices," Community Indicators Consortium, December 8, 2005.
This report synthesizes lessons learned from a number of reports on racial disparity, including the Jacksonville Community Council's "Race Relations Progress Report" of 2005; the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers report for President Clinton's Initiative on Race, "Changing America"; the Community Research Partners "2003 Racial Disparities Report" for the United Way of Central Ohio; the 2004 National Urban League's "State of Black America" report; and "The State of Black Los Angeles," a 2005 report from the Los Angeles Urban League and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. These reports found, in general, that white residents did not often perceive the racial disparities confirmed by the data, whereas people of color were more attuned to their own disadvantages, but were often less cognizant of the plight of other minority groups. The report consequently found that the communities in question need first to build understanding of disparities, as a prerequisite to bringing about significant and lasting change. To enable such community understanding over the long term, the report suggests that information should be updated and disseminated annually. Further, the consortium found that progress reports administered by, or in partnership with, groups outside of the government or organizations with perceived agendas were better received and more effective. The consortium identifies Jacksonville, in particular, as having put its report to good use in study circles and news media.

Jacksonville Looks at Its Negro Community: A Survey of Conditions Affecting the Negro Population in Jacksonville and Duval County, Florida, The Council of Social Agencies, May, 1946. This report, written in the wake of the Second World War, before desegregation, provides a unique look into racial disparities in mid-twentieth century Jacksonville, and the efforts to address those disparities. The Council of Social Agencies, an association of 72 organizations in Jacksonville, conducted a comprehensive study of the black community's condition in terms populations trends, healthcare, sanitation, safety, housing, transportation, education, recreation, employment, welfare services, and criminal justice. It also made specific and numerous recommendations to the city to improve conditions in the black community. The study highlights the history of race relations in Jacksonville, and the severity of racial inequality at the time.