WaveMakers: Yvette Lewis, president of Hillsborough NAACP

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From marching and making her voice heard on the streets to taking stands on the floor with Florida policies, Yvette Lewis is one of the foremost advocates for minority communities in Hillsborough County. Lewis, the president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, spoke with WMNF WaveMakers hosts Janet and Tom Scherberger on Feb. 8 about her work in the community.

Listen to the full episode here: 

Lewis has been a part of the NAACP for nearly 20 years and has helped to revitalize the organization and bring it to the forefront of the fight for civil rights in the Tampa Bay area. When she first joined, the organization branch had only  130 members. Today, with Lewis at the helm, there are over 2000.

While the NAACP’s mission encompasses all facets of civil rights in the community, Lewis detailed a few of the major points that her branch is working on in the community:

First, the NAACP is working within the education system to help African American students not only stay in school but also increase black enrollment, faculty and staff at the University of South Florida.

In addition, following Mayor Jane Castor’s announcement of Mary O’Connor being appointed as the new Tampa police chief, Lewis emphasized the importance of the NAACP working alongside the police department to address complaints and continue to best serve the community. She raised concerns about O’Connor’s potential participation in controversial and harmful practices in the community, such as phenomenons like “Biking While Black”.

With Hillsborough County having a checkered past of racism and current problems of race inequality, Lewis and the NAACP are fighting to not only rectify what was hurt in the past but build toward the future.

“What are we gonna do- When I say ‘we’, what are we going to do, the City of Tampa, to heal these wounds of African American people?”