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Elevate Orlando Fosters Conversation Between Youth & Law Enforcement

Sherry Paramore, president of Elevate Orlando. Image: Zoom / WMFE
Sherry Paramore, president of Elevate Orlando. Image: Zoom / WMFE

Sherry Paramore says the last few months of protest offers an opportunity for real change. She’s the president of Elevate Orlando, a non profit that mentors at-risk children and youth in Holden Heights, Parramore and Pine Hills. On Thursday night her organization held a listening session with young people from the program and members of law enforcement. 

After people across the US began protesting the death of George Floyd, Paramore said she started to get phone calls from friends and people in the community: "What are we going to do? How do we make a difference? And for me, it was about our students."

She said many of the students she works with wanted to go join the protests.

"I wanted to find a way that they could learn to do what we call old fashioned civic engagement, a way to effectively effectively change your community," Paramore said.

That led to the idea of a virtual listening forum they've called Generations for Justice.

Paramore said the first virtual listening forum was on the topic of race relations.

"We selected a group of students that really served on our first panel to talk about the racism that they've experienced through life and, a lot of our donors appreciated hearing that because they really couldn't fathom that even at an early age that they've experienced these things," said Paramore.

The second listening forum on Thursday night was around law enforcement.

"We want to make sure that we are expressing things that can happen or change that can happen to really improve the relationships between the African American community and law enforcement, or let me say, communities of color, and law enforcement."

Paramore said they also plan to hold a virtual listening forum with the faith community.

"If you look on Sunday morning, that's the most segregated time in America, you know, church," said Paramore.

"But if you look at [the civil rights movement], it was our white brothers and sisters who marched with the African American preachers, to make change happen. And so we need to be all at the same table working towards unity in America, especially unity in this community."