Lift Lakeland initiative aims to address issues of racial inequity

Leaders in Lakeland are working with the community to develop an in-depth plan to address the city’s racial tensions and issues. 

Close to 100 people came out Thursday night for a community forum to weigh in on the initiatives. The input from residents will help shape the community-inspired Lift Lakeland plan.

The effort started over the summer, and through conversations with community leaders, a plan of nine broad categories to help address inequality was developed.

“We just were really trying to discern what are some of the gaps we have in our own community that we can bridge that can create more harmony if we just identify them and try to get serious about a solution,” said Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz.

Solutions the city says needs to come from the community, with people and organizations getting behind the initiatives.

“I think the city now has put themselves in a position to pull together those organizations for us now to be able to work together,” Jarvis Washington said.

“Once people get engaged then I think we're gonna begin to see many different types of changes,” said Debbie Crumbley.

Leaders hope the top priority concepts can be developed over the next two months, with elements kicking off in January.

Officials know there is no quick fix, and they are dedicated to pushing Lift Lakeland forward even when it gets difficult.

“It’s work to do this and people are going to help us decide what’s next along the way,” Mutz said.