Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bringing People Together Groups Working on Racial Unity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bringing People Together Groups Working on Racial Unity

Article excerpt

Residents in Jacksonville's urban core were introduced last week to a new initiative -- Unity 2000.

The city's Human Rights Commission started planning the project in February to research how Jacksonville residents can come together and then implement programs to promote that bonding.

Details have not been worked out, but a commission member attended the Urban Core Citizens Planning Advisory Council meeting and passed out surveys that will help Unity 2000 plan its direction.

Unity co-chairman Leslie Hardy said the initiative was inspired by a University of North Florida study on race relations in Jacksonville showed the issue needed to be addressed. The study ended in March.

"What we wanted to do as a commission is become more proactive," he said.

The project doesn't kick off until January and will last more than a year.

"What we intend to do is enlist several projects designed to bring this community closer together," Hardy said.

The commission wants residents "working together as one," he said.

The four areas Unity 2000 will cover are community and police relations, youth, study circles and business initiatives. The commission plans to canvas houses and use town meetings, churches and neighborhood groups to reach all people, Hardy said.

Scores of volunteers are involved, from the schools, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, museums, media, churches, Citizens Planning Advisory Councils, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and residents, he added.

Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Janetta Norman said members chose to target the areas that touched most people's lives. Norman is also chairwoman of the Urban Core Citizens Planning Advisory Council.

Group member Joan Haskell is visiting all of the city's planning council meetings to pass out surveys that ask residents how the city can improve and what problems exist in their area, Norman said. …

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