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Even as we learn new ways to live and operate an organization safely amid economic and social upheaval from the COVID-19 virus, we must acknowledge legacies of inequality and violence in our West Volusia communities. As we confront them, the West Volusia Historical Society must look to the past as a guide for present concerns.

We believe, like historian and Smithsonian Secretary Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch, that “… History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society — but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice.”

As a steward of West Volusia’s history, the West Volusia Historical Society must be an open source of information and support, as we work together to build an informed path forward toward racial justice and equality.

We must recommit to our mission of researching, exploring and sharing the diverse and important stories from West Volusia’s history: stories of free and enslaved people of African descent; stories of indigenous peoples who experienced settler colonization and removal; and stories of settlers who came here from many different cultures and backgrounds in search of a better life.

The West Volusia Historical Society will continually strive to be, for everyone, a safe, equitable and thoughtful place to come together and learn from our shared history, as we seek a more just and compassionate future.

— Wangsness is president of the West Volusia Historical Society. This statement was submitted on behalf of the society’s board of directors.