A good friend once told me, “Cheats, things get heated down 95 south…but in a good way.” I was honored to take “The Table” to Petersburg for what I hope is the first of many discussions regarding the state of the community.
The reason I selected Petersburg as our first travel destination is because the narrative traveling up 95 to Richmond about Petersburg doesn’t appear to tell the whole story; and just for the record – neither does this podcast. The whole story is multilayered, it’s historic, it’s complex, it’s segregated, it’s difficult to uncover. Honestly, I don’t know where one would begin with such a task of telling the accurate narrative of Petersburg in 2016. I started at the only place I know – the grassroots.
The narrative you hear about Petersburg is one of government corruption, you hear of fiscal mismanagement, you hear of failing schools, you hear of a growing opioid epidemic and all of those things are present in Petersburg. In the midst of ongoing scandal, the Petersburg city government recently brought in the Robert Bobb group as turnaround experts to take over city hall. The distrust in the system is prevalent everywhere. The divides in the community are prevalent everywhere. But there is another side. Some of the things that you don’t hear about the city of Petersburg is encouraging. You don’t hear of the community citizens working tirelessly to help the youth through programs like Shaping Up our Future . You don’t hear about citizens coming together to host their own holiday parade or music festival. You don’t hear enough about the growing business climate that will need to play an even bigger role as government won’t have the resources to manage things like Parks and Recreation for summer programs. You don’t hear of the community taking pride in their neighborhoods to make a positive change.
We came to Petersburg to hear both the bad and the good and to tell some of those stories through community dialogue.
I was joined at The Table by: J.D. Haze (Righteous Hustlers/Soul Logistics) , Bari Muhammad (Allusions), Atiba Muse (Petersburg School Board), Shahid Shabazz (Allusions), Fancie Greenwood Terrell (Community Organizer/VSU), Dawn Cherry (Boys and Girls Club of Petersburg), Jesse Vaughan (Filmmaker), Kofi Adih (Small Business Owner), Scott Yates (Journalist), and Officer Betts (Petersburg Police Department).
The discussion is lively and heated at some points but it articulates the challenges that these grassroots leaders face everyday. Petersburg will only grow if the community works together. Everyone has a job to do and it’s great to meet a small fraction of the Petersburg community that is doing their job to the fullest. #WESEEIT
Thanks to Risa, Jourdan, and Gigi for all of the staff work.