Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], and Vivian Filer [F] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis [D] about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville. This is the 63rd in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.
We regret to report that Ms. Roberson passed away at her home on September 24; David Chalmers, quoted in earlier GWER excerpts, passed away last month (see pg 16).
Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.
D: What was your proudest moment as a member of GWER?
F: How many do we get? [Laughter]
H: How many moments do we get to count? [Laughter]
F: Yeah, that’s right! We each get a different one.
I started UF in January of 1971 after graduating from Miami Dade with an AA degree in Pre-Law.
That month Jane Fonda came and spoke at UF. She was looking for patriotic veterans who served in Vietnam. She said that we needed to tell the American people the truth about the conduct of U.S. troops in Vietnam, and what was being done in their names with their money.
Jane’s talk got me involved in the Winter Soldier Investigation, which got me involved with Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
October saw the passing of two men who made a great impact on both the UF community and the world. Both David Chalmers and Hal Stahmer led long, accomplished lives, each with strong ties to and inspiration from the struggle for the mid-twentieth-century civil rights movement. They wove that into their academic lives as nationally honored professors of history and religion, respectively, as well as in their lives outside the university in their longtime presence in Gainesville. They led full and rich lives that impacted countless people. Condolences to their life partners Jean Chalmers and Paula Stahmer, and their families and friends. The links to their obituaries/tributes from their families are at: https://tinyurl.com/Iguana1138 (David Chalmers) and https://tinyurl.com/Iguana1139 (Hal Stahmer).
Covering Florida Navigators deliver free outreach and enrollment services to any Floridian that needs to enroll in health care coverage in the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They assist consumers with telephone, in-person, and online enrollment services and provide public education and outreach activities at locations throughout the state. Navigators are trained and certified to provide free and unbiased help to consumers as they shop for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms.
by Diane Dimperio
Insurance companies are not established to help people. Most are for-profit businesses with stockholders expecting a return on investment which creates pressure to spend less than they earn. Insurance is a risky business and successful companies have learned how to manage their operation to meet statutory requirements while generating a profit.
The majority of people with health insurance are enrolled through an employer, which offers several advantages. Employers have competent professionals negotiating comprehensive plans, the employer pays a large portion of the premium and negotiates out-of-pocket costs for employees. The larger the number of employees the more favorable terms the employer is able to negotiate.
by Ashley Nguyen
On Oct. 30, the University of Florida announced that in-person classes for Spring 2021 will return to pre-pandemic levels of registration. This announcement has brought forth trepidation, especially from members of the UF faculty, student body, and Gainesville community.
Not only do in-person classes endanger members of the community who belong to high-risk categories (as delineated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), this reckless policy will inevitably lead to dire consequences to workers, staff, and community members who make the everyday processes of the University function smoothly.
by Joe Courter
Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting here in limbo” comes to my mind. We had the election we’d been waiting for. Four years of the not normal, the not even imaginable, taking place every day.
Looking back, it is like the progress we’d made as a society was being taken away; the hard-fought-for rights, the long-struggled-for environmental regulations, even the trust we had in governmental functioning in the public interest seemed to – was – being taken away by an occupying force. Was there anger, even hate, for the perpetrators of these actions?
by JoJo Sacks
As we swing into November and December, we want to express gratitude for the amazing organizers in town that have been keeping up the good fight! We are in increasingly unprecedented times, and they have been holding it down.
At the CMC, we have been busy with online programming and fundraising. In October, we celebrated our 27th anniversary with a great panel discussion about mutual aid, its origins, and the ways in which local folks have been redistributing resources to those in need. The CMC Virtual Book Club read Dr. Paul Ortiz’s book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States. Recently, we hosted a “Know Your Rights” training for activists with the National Lawyers Guild. In addition, we continue to be the staging area for the twice a week free food distribution by the Free Grocery Store, which takes food right to the doorsteps of people in need.
We are looking forward to more online events soon, helping us raise money to keep the CMC alive. We will host a CMC volunteer meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5:30pm on Zoom – come plug in if you are interested in helping support the CMC as we remain closed during the pandemic. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for updates.
You can donate to the 501(c)3 non profit CMC on Paypal at paypal.me/cmc4ever, or mail a check to 433 S. Main Street. Email email@example.com with any questions!
by James Thompson
With heavy focus on Trump’s defeat and control of the Senate in the balance as of this writing, let’s not forget that all politics are local. And local politics can be just as joyous and gut-wrenching as anything the nation has to offer.
Hope for a better Alachua County and Gainesville metro area springs higher from the successful passing of all eleven progressive local ballot items by public referendum. And we have excellent new County Commissioners in Anna Prizzia and Mary Alford. The bad news is Dr. Kayser Enneking bravely, but unsuccessfully ran against the incumbent Republican Chuck Clemons for Florida House District 21.
The November/December issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.
Dr. Harold Martin Stahmer, Jr., UF Professor Emeritus, passed away Friday, October 23, 2020, at home, surrounded by his family. Harold was known as Hal to his friends, Dad to his three daughters and Grandfather to his six grandsons. He was born in Brooklyn, NY on August 7, 1929, the son of Harold Martin Stahmer, Sr., and Anne Truntz Stahmer. He grew up sneaking into Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers, drawing and painting even as a gifted young child and later taking courses at the Pratt Institute for the Arts, and developing a love of chocolate ice cream while working at his Uncle Henry’s soda and candy shop in Flatbush.
President, Representatives, Commissioners: Vote Democrat
Judges: Yes to Lewis and Makar; No to others
State Amendments: Yes on #2; No on #1, 3, 4; Leaning No on #5, 6
County Referenda: All Yes
Gainesville Referenda: All Yes
by JoJo Sacks, CMC Coordinator
As we move into fall and remain at home during the pandemic, the Civic Media Center, though closed for events, has been putting together online programming to keep our community engaged.
In September, volunteers organized our first virtual CMC book club, reading adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. Organizers held a discussion about the need to stand for Black communities and against the gentrification of the historic Seminary Lane neighborhood. (See related story on page 9.)
Every Thursday: A Downtown Market is being hosted by Heartwood Soundstage at 619 S. Main St. on Thursdays from 4-7pm with music and vendors. Masking and distancing is required. The first one was Oct. 1 and had a good turn-out with a similar vibe to the Wednesday Bo Diddley Market, which was suspended due to Covid. Not a lot of farmers at the first one, but it may grow. Other markets continue at Cypress & Grove on Mondays from 4-7pm, at Celebration Point on Wednesdays from 4-7 and Haile Plantation on Saturdays from 8:30am til noon.
Saturday, Oct. 17, in conjunction with the Women’s March in DC, a local Women’s March event will be held at Bo Diddley Plaza from 10 am until noon.
Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3pm, to mark the Civic Media Center’s 27th anniversary, Solidarity not Charity is a Zoom event on Mutual Aid, citing examples from history with the Black Panthers and others to current efforts in Gainesville. More information is listed in the article below.
Friday, Oct. 23, South Main Art Hub at 435 S.Main St. will host Spacial Inclinations, an indoor/outdoor socially distanced mask-requiring art show. Parking and entry from SE 5th Ave.
Saturday, Oct. 24 features the UN association Zoom event (see page 14), and an actual outdoors out-of-town event at Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River (see page 10).
And of course this year no FEST, no theater, minimal live music, but Zoom meetings, blocked off city streets, parks and nature remain … hang in there, we’ll get through this.
Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], Vivian Filer [F], and David Chalmers [DC] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville.
This is the 62nd in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection; other parts of this excerpt appeared in the July-August and September Iguanas.
Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.
C: Remember when we investigated the Department of Welfare?
First, we found out that one of the county commissioners’ parents were on welfare. So we thought, “Well, we’d really like to look at the rolls and see who’s on welfare.” And we never could. I won’t mention her name, but every time we went, there was some reason we couldn’t see the rolls.
by Jacob U. Gordon, Ph.D., Chair, UN Day 2020 Working Group, UNA*USA Gainesville
The United Nations was founded on Oct. 24, 1945 in San Francisco. Its purpose was to promote international cooperation after the devastating World Wars I and II.
The Gainesville Chapter, United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA*USA) will commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9am to 1pm. This program will take place as a virtual conference via Zoom, due to the coronavirus. This will allow us to have an international audience.
by Hannah Jacobs
The Adam Christensen for Congress Campaign to fill the vacant seat in Florida’s 3rd district has become a powerful force in the progressive movement growing among all demographics.
The campaign has been endorsed by prominent figures across the spectrum, including former presidential candidates Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang, as well as organizations No Dem Left Behind, Florida College Democrats, Humanity Forward, and the local chapter of Our Revolution. The support from social media followers and constituents in the district is proof of the traction Adam Christensen’s political philosophies have earned him.
Be happy to know that Gainesville permanently dumped Columbus Day (a federal holiday since 1937) in 2018. We are the only city in Florida to have made the change. No celebrations will occur this year due to Covid, but there very likely will be a proclamation at the Oct. 12 City Commission meeting and an acknowledgement on the City’s Facebook page. This all came about from the grassroots spearheaded by Sylvia Paluzzi, of Morning Meadow Pre-School and Kindergarten working with the City Commission. Current Mayor Lauren Poe is supportive of bringing attention to the Native people who preceded us on this land, and has promised that in 2021, if we’re out of the pandemic woods by then, a series of City supported events will be held to mark this overlooked history.
by Jennifer Carr, President, Florida Defenders of the Environment
According to NOAA Fisheries, it is estimated that more than 2 million dams in the U.S., and even more culverts and other barriers, block fish from migrating upstream. This has contributed to the decline of many fish populations.
It was recently mentioned in the Florida Specifier that the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership has an online prioritization tool for dam removal. The Rodman/Kirkpatrick ranks as one of the three highest priority dams for removal out of over 2,500 aquatic barriers in Florida, based on the amount of habitat to be gained and the condition of the watershed.
by Neighbors Standing with Seminary Lane
Once upon a time there was a beautiful neighborhood in the center of Gainesville. It was called Seminary Lane.
It had a school (currently named A. Quinn Jones Education Center, soon to be renamed), barber and beauty shops, nurseries for children, mom and pop places to eat, locally owned funeral homes and a place where music played and people danced.
People thrived in their community. African-American people. They had homes they could afford in a place they loved. Having been pushed there during the Jim Crow area, they built a vibrant, diverse, historically African-American community which is now prey for developers seeking to build luxury student rental housing.