During the fall of 1986, preliminary discussions on building a direct action organization to address the root causes of ongoing poverty and violence began among clergy in the African American community of East Tampa. This led to the formation of the Tampa Metropolitan Action Organization Sponsoring Committee (TMAOSC) in March 1987, with Rev. J. L. Overstreet, President.
TMAOSC then held a town hall meeting with 400 people to get input on community problems, prioritizing: crime, neighborhood infrastructure, traffic safety, affordable housing, jobs, education, parks, and supervised recreation. After two years of discussions and organizing, on September 11, 1988, 500 people from 15 congregations held the founding Convention of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, HOPE, as a vehicle for achieving systemic justice.
Elder Don Horne Jr., HOPE’s first elected President and former pastor of Solid Rock Baptist Church said, “We’re not an organization of reactionaries, but of visionaries…we are willing to take direct action straight to the source of the problem.”