City of St. Petersburg Releases Structural Racism Study Results, City Council Passes Resolution

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Earlier this year, the City of St. Petersburg commissioned the University of South Florida to examine both the historical and modern-day impact that structural racism has had on the lives of Black people in St. Pete. The study was led by a diverse team that included university and community researchers, racial justice advocates, and student collaborators. It evaluated the factors related to education, the criminal-legal system, and economic development within St. Pete. The six-month study was finalized in November and a resolution supporting the implementation of findings was passed by City Council earlier this week.

Said Mayor Kriseman, “My sincere thanks to Dr. Ruthmae Sears and the entire team at USF for leading the way on this critically important endeavor. While this work was initiated by the City of St. Petersburg, it is now a part of a long-overdue community conversation, and it will be up to not just City officials, but community leaders and citizens to have that conversation going forward.”

Based on the evidence discovered during the intensive study, the five immediate action steps recommended are:

  1. Create an equity department within the Office of the Mayor. The Director will serve as a liaison between the community and the budget committee, using an annual equity assessment and other data to negotiate funds for City projects and promptly bring issues to light.
  2. Create and implement an effective accountability strategy that includes a commitment to a race equity review of existing City policies and practices and of all future proposed policies and practices. The strategy will be supported by measurable outcomes that are tracked over time and used to influence incremental improvements to the strategy until equitable outcomes are achieved.
  3. Create a permanent resident race equity commission aligned with the motion approved in April 2018, which supported an African American Quality of Life Sunshine Committee. This will advance the unanimously approved motion. The performance monitoring will ensure progress towards equity is made and it is recommended that this becomes a permanent way of conducting business in the city. 
  4. Examine and initiate action steps to reparations to address disparities that have been made visible by this report. In conversations with those most impacted by racism in the community, topics focused on wanting more tangible efforts of restitutions such as affordable housing, reforms in the criminal-legal system, free health services or tertiary education.
  5. Continue support for the work started in the study.
"We are truly appreciative for the residents who willingly shared their personal experiences and provided insights into the best path forward for the city," Principal Investigator Ruthmae Sears said. "The experiences and wisdom of the community are essential to advancing the recommendations of this study, building bridges, promoting racial equity, and improving the overall quality of life for residents in St. Petersburg.” 

To learn more about the study and its findings, visit