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WFSU presents a Perspectives preview of a groundbreaking podcast series on race relations in Tallahassee

Participants in the Not So Black and White preview Perspectives program were: (l. to r.) Miaisha Mitchell; Andrea Oliver; Tom Flanigan; Talethia Edwards; and Reginald Ellis.
Lydell Rawls/WFSU Public Media
Participants in the Not So Black and White preview Perspectives program were: (l. to r.) Miaisha Mitchell; Andrea Oliver; Tom Flanigan; Talethia Edwards; and Reginald Ellis.

The first of WFSU Public Media's series of podcasts on Tallahassee's complex racial realities goes online Thursday, Sept. 22. A special project preview came a few days before that during a special Perspectives broadcast.
The podcast project, underwritten by the Florida Humanities Council, has been in the works for nearly a year. Initially, there will be 5 podcasts - most running around half-an-hour or more - plumbing the often contentious, although occasionally triumphant, relations between diverse communities. For Dr. Reginald Ellis, Florida A&M University Graduate and Research Department Dean and one of the project's editor/consultants, having authentic, first-person voices in the mix was critical.

"The exciting piece about this upcoming podcast is that you're going to hear the history from the people and not necessarily the historians. But from the community themselves."

The podcast series, dubbed "Not So Black and White," will cover topics ranging from education to religion to property and nutrition matters. They'll be uploaded to the WFSU website on roughly a weekly basis. A couple of bonus podcasts will drop in about a month. Multiple journalists, topics and interview subjects are involved. Tallahassee Community College History Professor and project advisor Dr. Andrea Oliver, is excited about the importance of the historic information captured in the various segments.

"The oral history gives us that dimension and that perspective that they won't get from the history books. And that's why I myself am very respectful of that. We're starting to lose that generation of freedom-fighters from the Civil Rights Era and it's so important that their experiences get documented."

But it seems what is old is new again, at least insofar as what appears to be a recent resurgence of undisguised racist expression on the part of some white people. One of those interviewed for the podcasts, who was taken aback by this throwback development was Talethia Edwards, whose community involvement in Tallahassee has assumed near legendary status.

"I thought this was something from the past, something I'd read about. Because I hadn't necessarily experienced it up close. But it was at that moment I realized I better open my eyes."

Despite this, there are also voices in the podcast series that articulate hope. One of these belongs to Miaisha Mitchell, a native of Tallahassee's ancient Smokey Hollow neighborhood and longtime head of the Frenchtown Revitalization Council.

"How do we change that? Interactions, collaborations and partnerships. Being truthful and strategic. All of the things we've been talking about today are critical if we want to move forward in our beloved community."

And that common love of Tallahassee, articulated by so many in the podcasts, even while pointing out the city's many faults and shortcomings, may be one of the most important sentiments of all. We hope you'll log onto wfsu.org starting September 22nd and listen to the fruits of many devoted laborers.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.