Consequences of Desegregation Explored in 'Reading, Writing, & Civil Rights'

Feb 24, 2017

A documentary exploring the unintended consequences of school de-segregation brought leaders from Southwest Florida's African American community together for a discussion about the enduring impacts of the Civil Rights movement.

The documentary, "Reading, Writing & Civil Rights: Enduring Impacts," was a follow-up to a 2015 documentary which featured the stories of students on the front lines of South Florida's desegregation efforts, which came to the region much later than other parts of the country.

Friday at 1:30 p.m., Gulf Coast Live is re-broadcasting a live panel discussion that followed the premiere of the latest documentary. The discussion was led by producer Rosie Emery, and featured:

  • Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, current President of Florida Gulf Coast University who, as a young student in ninth grade, helped desegregate Central Junior High in West Palm Beach. 
  • Dr. Martha Bireda, a descendant of the first African American founding families of Punta Gorda who attended segregated schools and now is the Executive Director of the Blanchard House Museum.
  • James Middlebrooks Jr., Chairman and Publisher of the Community Press Publication in Lee County who taught and served as principal in Lee County schools.
  • Jaha Cummings, recently elected to the City Council of Punta Gorda, and director and publisher of a research organization in the Asia-Pacific region focusing on youth and values formation.
  • Dr. Debra Mathinos, principal of Harlem Heights Community Charter School in Fort Myers who's spent 35 years in education developing and implementing programs for “nontraditional” learners – children, youth and adults.