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DeLandite Reginald Williams is pastor of Emmanuel Christian Ministries Inc., as well as chairman of the board overseeing the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand.

Williams is glad to see DeLand among the communities beginning to reckon with realities that have long gone undiscussed, including the racial injustices brought to the fore after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

“DeLand is a little different from most places. When we look at issues … the community has always come together and addressed it,” Williams said. “This community has been progressive in some aspects, but there is a double standard. There are many individuals of color — Black, brown, Hispanic — who fear how they are treated, even by law enforcement. I think we have a good [police] chief, but they have a fear of law enforcement, and how they would be treated in incidents compared to how whites would be treated. That still does exist.”

Williams said DeLand does better than many other Volusia County communities, but, because of that, he holds it to a higher standard.

“There is a sense of equality, when the equality that should exist doesn’t exist. We haven’t gotten there yet,” he said. “I believe in this community, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Like other museums and churches, those Williams is active with have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We haven’t held a face-to-face gathering since, probably, March when this pandemic set in. We’ve been meeting by Zoom,” Williams said of his church. “The museum is still shut down.”

As the COVID-19 vaccine begins to reach residents of Volusia County, Williams is hopeful for a return to normalcy this year.

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