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About Pleasant Street


Building healthy,
resilient communities
in Alachua County

At Pleasant Street Civil Rights & Cultural Arts Center, we help people in Alachua County overcome the problems that make it hard for them to be healthy and happy. We work with other groups to help people learn new skills, stand up for their rights, and celebrate their culture. We believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to live a good life. 

We advance the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, education, innovation, and engagement.

  • To help Black communities that face oppression and lack resources.

  • To offer a safe and open space where people can share their experiences of historical systemic obstacles and their trauma.

  • To work with other organizations that share our vision to tackle these injustices through programs led and centered by the community.

  • Together, we will create systemic change by empowering and developing the skills of community members.


“In everything we do, we try to engage the community, educate the community, but also mobilize the community with some sort of sustainability. Because at the end of the day, we want communities to be self-sufficient about their own health and wellness.”  


– Pastor Gerard Duncan


We have prioritized the issue of health equity because we understand, and have experienced, the foundational role it plays in determining a high quality of life. Many Black communities in our county are socially and economically vulnerable, far from fresh food markets, disconnected from health services, and facing poor outcomes in conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Our life-enhancing Health & Wellness, Food & Nutrition, Support Services, and Training programs are known for generating high engagement and lasting positive impact.  



Pastor Duncan
Executive Director

Pastor Gerard Duncan is the senior pastor of Prayers By Faith Family Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. Through his own spiritual journey and his work ministering to the members of his community, he has seen first-hand the power of restoring hope through social change.


Early on, Pastor Duncan recognized the role individual, family, and community health inequities play in driving the disparities he sees in his neighborhoods. It has led him to work closely with other faith leaders to increase awareness of health and wellness within their churches and the communities they serve.


“In exploring the many ways I could support my community, I found that good health is the overwhelming need. If your health is not in place, it effects all other aspects of your life.”


– Pastor Gerard Duncan


In 2023, with this focus in mind, he created the Pleasant Street Civil Rights and Cultural Arts Center, where he continues today as Executive Director. In this capacity, he collaborates with like-minded social and health organizations to develop and execute community-led and community-centered programs. The Center’s success is due in large part to his personal love of and ability in building deep, trusted relationships with a wide range of stakeholders.


A self-described “spiritual leader and social entrepreneur,” Pastor Duncan is also the Chief Executive Officer of Community Partners and Engagement Consultants. In this role, he works with numerous departments at the University of Florida and the UF Health Hospital and Health Colleges as well as other local organizations; his advice and guidance to the University of Florida Cancer Center has been recognized as contributing to its notable achievement as the 72nd NCI designated Center.


Additionally, Pastor Duncan contributes his time and experience as a member of Florida’s Statewide Faith and Community Advisory Council within the Executive Office of the Governor, the Alachua County Christian Pastors Association, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's Faith and Community Network, the Santa Fe College Community Advisory Board and the Gainesville Thrives, and travels extensively, both nationally and internationally, speaking on topics on health equity, health disparities, and mental wellness.

Recent appearances and activities
University of Florida 

DECEMBER 12, 2023

Win Phillips Town and Gown Award Recognition

University of Florida 

JANUARY 11, 2024

Black Student Union Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration — Keynote Speaker

University of Florida 

JANUARY 15, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service



Old Mount Carmel Church, a historic civil rights hub

While the Center currently operates out of a facility at 1817 E University Ave, our vision is to repurpose and reimagine Old Mount Carmel Church and ultimately relocate to this historic meeting place for Gainesville’s civil rights movement.


“We need to know the importance of a sacred space. This is a very significant space in the Black community. I want to turn it into a civil rights museum detailing the past and present civil rights leaders, UF faculty members, and NAACP members. Another floor will house the Pleasant Street Civil Rights & Cultural Arts Center.”


– Pastor Gerard Duncan


Built in 1944 to serve as a place of worship for the local Black community, in the 1960s Reverend Thomas A. Wright took up the church leadership, and as President of Alachua County’s NAACP chapter, began using the church to promote justice and racial and social equity. His work prompted numerous changes throughout the local area, including the 1964 lawsuit against Alachua County School Board that resulted in the desegregation of public schools.


In 2019, Prayers By Faith Family Ministries, in partnership with University of Florida’s Historic Preservation Program, launched an effort to restore Old Mount Carmel. The Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.

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