Xavier Pinellas spent his college days fighting for equal rights and working for the rights of his people in his native town, Kissimmee, Florida. Xavier was the founder of a non-profit organization called Project Reach, which started in 1977. It was a low-cost counseling and tutoring service for the black community in Osceola County at the time. There, he tutored over 200 kids, helped 35 students enter college and put a significant number of people on jobs and opportunities they would not have been hired for previously. This was his attempt at giving the black community a helping hand for themselves and their education. Pinellas wanted his students up to the level of their fellow peers in the classroom and not fall behind.
“I was born and reared in Kissimmee. My roots are here. I want to leave a mark on the community, to be a…model for black kids”
Pinellas was also known in the community for filing a charge to the Osceola County School Board for compensation on racial discrimination in their hiring practices. He sought employment in Osceola County in 1971 and was denied in spite of his qualifications. Eventually, he won an out-of-court settlement from the Osceola County School Board in 1976.That settlement ordered the School Board to give him the next available job that he was qualified for, but ultimately, he wasn’t hired for anything immediately.
“I don’t think this community is ready as far as integration is concerned. It should have been time that a man wouldn’t be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character and his qualifications.”
Project Reach, Helping those help themselves. Neighborhood, June 25th, 1978.
McLaughlin, Peggy. School Board Fights HEW Hiring Order. The Orlando Sentinel, April 29th, 1976.