The death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer launched a national reckoning on race in America. Across our local Tampa Bay region, it ushered in a new chapter of local activism and calls for racial equity. Amidst the daily protests, pushbacks and media coverage, there was a need for thoughtful dialogue on a local level.
With more than 60 years’ experience as the convener of trusted discourse and community impact, WEDU PBS produced a one-hour community conversation to address race relations and explore different perspectives. In July 2020, with COVID-19 spreading rapidly in our area, we used Zoom to host and moderate remote conversations, led by three regular WEDU hosts. What began as a necessity due to the pandemic opened the door to more raw, intimate conversations than would likely have unfolded in the broadcast studio. Each conversation was substantial, and while we had to edit for time within the program, we posted the interviews in their entirety on our YouTube page for additional content. We shot several exterior field packages for the program, featuring a fresh angle on a day in the life of Black Lives Matter activist, how to talk to children about race, a spoken word performance on social justice, and a call to action for our community to further explore their own experiences and possible biases.
Can We Talk? fulfilled WEDU’s mission of hyperlocal storytelling and community outreach, bringing diverse voices to the table and fostering much-needed dialogue at a conflicted time for our region.