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Joyce Cusack was elected to a total of 16 years as a Volusia County Council member and state representative, and was the first African American in Volusia County to be elected to the Florida House of Representatives. Cusack also was among those who staged a sit-in at a popular five-and-dime shop in Downtown DeLand to protest segregation in 1960.

Q: What are some of the things that concern you locally regarding racial inequality?

A: I’m concerned about the lack of representation on some of the boards and offices in our area. But, I think DeLand has come a long ways as far as working together with races of people.

Where we need to go is we need to get folks in areas of government. We need to get people moving in that way so that we can have inclusion and diversity in these workplaces, on these governance boards and in government in leadership positions. 

We just have to keep doing the three things — move forward; try to better conditions where we are today; and remember where we have been, so we don’t ever have to go backwards. 

Q: How does the Dr. Joyce M. Cusack Resource Center help, and what are you looking forward to in the future?

A: I think the Resource Center has always been a place that will help a whole lot of people get information and opportunities. I think that there’s a whole lot of work yet to be done, especially as far as the opportunity for health care and education. 

I’d like to see us have some classes there to help people educate themselves, so that they can get better job opportunities. And I think that we are on the move to do that. 

Health Care is also on my mind. Health Care in the fact that we’ll be able to offer some health care screenings that will help us to identify the health care issues in our bodies. I think the Resource Center has been doing this on a limited scale, but now with the new location, and the new facilities, we will be able to do more.

Nutrition is another important piece that our Resource Center will be able to help, as far as nutritional classes, and a garden for good nutrition that’s on the property. 

These are the kind of things that I think will help us with quality-of-life issues.

I always have my mind on things that impact us as far as housing — the opportunity to have homeownership classes at the center is something I am hoping for.

Now, we can’t be all things to all people at all times. But we can do some of these things to help in a positive way. 

So I think the center is going to be exactly what it is: a Resource Center that will get people in and out in a better place. 

Q: What kind of challenges has the pandemic posed to fighting injustice?

A: Kids have been robbed some this year. But there will come a time that we will not be able to tell children that someone is not a good person, because they would have grown up together. And people that you grew up with — listen, when you see two kids, they don’t see color. 

It’s just good to see love, and that’s all they know. One day, I hope that happens again. That we can live in a society where we can just see people and love.

LISTENING — At the center named in honor of Cusack, members of the MainStreet DeLand Association Vision Crew listen to Spring Hill residents tell their stories of growing up in the community. The Listening Circles at the Cusack Resource Center are part of the Vision Crew’s initiative to raise awareness about racial bias and make Downtown DeLand a more welcoming and safe place for all people. Clockwise around the table, from the front, are Resource Center Director Shilretha Dixon, Stevie Vermillion, Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, Tanners Hayward, Sharon Wright, Amelia Pollock and Stetson University Center for Community Engagement coordinator Markus-Daniel Jones.

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