We would like to begin these events with land acknowledgement, which we have crafted through the Honor Native Land Guide
by The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.
Acknowledgment is a first step. It does not stand in for relationship and action, but can begin to point toward deeper possibilities for decolonizing relationships with people and place. Truth and acknowledgment are critical to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and difference. We begin this effort to acknowledge what has been buried by honoring the truth.NATIVE PEOPLES OF GAINESVILLE
We are standing on the ancestral lands of the Seminole and Timucua Peoples and the diverse milieu of multi-lingual indigenous communities that comprised them. Spanish, French, and British colonizers did not “discover” this land; there were indigenous communities living in this area of what we call “central Florida” for tens of thousands of years before coming into contact with European colonizers. European disease, violence, Catholic missionary expeditions, and the U.S. Government-sanctioned “Indian Removal Act” of 1830 are just some of the main components that contributed to the cultural and political genocide of indigenous communities in this area. We further want to honor and uplift trans, queer, two-spirit, and indigenous femmes who lived here before us; we know that they have always led the revolution.THE UNION ACADEMY & THE ROSA B. WILLIAMS CENTER
The Rosa B. Williams Center was built on the site of the Union Academy
, the first school for African Americans in Gainesville and Alachua County, which provided a free quality education to African Americans when public schools in Alachua County were struggling. Established in 1865, the school served the community for almost 60 years.
At the beginning of the Civil War, African Americans, mostly slaves, were 54% of the population in Alachua County, but few lived in Gainesville. At the end of the war, in May 1865, a company of the 3rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment were stationed in Gainesville. They were replaced that October by a company of the 34th United States Colored Infantry Regiment. The presence of Black troops in Gainesville in 1865 encouraged freed men to settle there. By 1870, Gainesville's population was 53% Black; today, our city is closer to 20% Black. The harm caused by gentrification of Gainesville's historic Black neighborhoods is rampant and well-documented in Gainesville, an issue for which this building's namesake, Ms. Rosa Williams, is a vocal activist.PORTERS & DEPOT PARK
The land of Southwest Gainesville was once owned by Dr. Watson Porter, a former Union Army surgeon assigned to the Third U.S. Colored Troops. An immeasurably important member of his community, Porter served as the principal of the Union Academy and made a practice of selling his land exclusively to Black families, thus marking the establishment of The Porters community in 1884. Porters, as it's still known, is the second-oldest historically Black neighborhood in Gainesville. Today, it is a site of aggressive gentrification
Please take a moment to honor these peoples and communities past and present. Consider the many legacies of violence, enslavement, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us together here today. Please join us in uncovering such truths, and holding us at Figure On Diversity — as well as the institutions which have provided us with funding and support, including the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida — accountable at any and all public events. We at Figure On Diversity understand that accountability is a gift, and is a signifier of our community's trust in our ability to do better. We will work hard to honor any and all calls for our accountability with utmost gratitude and respect.