Black history celebration held in Tampa

02/01/08 Seán Kinane
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This morning, the city of Tampa celebrated the beginning of Black History Month with a program called “Reaching Back, Moving Forward, Holding Up the Light.”

The city of Tampa Black History Committee organized the 20th annual celebration at the Tampa Convention Center.

Several hundred people attended, including former Mayor Sandy Friedman and Tampa City Council Members Mary Mulhern, Linda Saul-Sena and Thomas Scott. Committee founder Bobby L. Bowden spoke about why he and others formed the Black History Committee 20 years ago.

The keynote address was by Hillsborough Community College history professor, Keith Berry. Berry took issue with something said by U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Republican from Brooksville. In 2006 she said that not all Muslims are terrorists, but with the exception of Timothy McVeigh, all terrorists are Muslim.

Despite decades of progress, “inequities remain in the criminal justice system and society in general,” Berry said.

The celebration included speeches, poetry, awards and singing by Maurice Jackson. Mayor Pam Iorio spoke about why black history should be celebrated in Tampa. In doing so, she brought up the memories of slavery and a film co-sponsored by WMNF called Prince Among Slaves.

Tampa City Council Chair Gwen Miller said children should take part in celebrations of Black History.

Several Thomas Edison Elementary School students informed people at the celebration about black historical figures. Kevin McCoy and Miracle Amos are fourth-graders at Edison and presented a poster about James Weldon Johnson. Edison fourth-graders Daisha Morgan and Regi Nelson chose Zora Neale Hurston.

On Tuesday, voters added property tax cuts to Florida’s Constitution, a move that will result in school boards across the state losing an estimated $1.6 billion over the next five years. School board member Doretha Edgecomb discussed how Amendment One would affect Hillsborough County Schools.

Edgcomb said Hillsborough County Schools would lose an estimated $83 million over the next five years because of Amendment One.

The Black History Committee’s next event is a Scholarship Gala on Feb. 29tin Ybor City.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Learn more:

City of Tampa Black History Committee Inc.

Hillsborough County School Board

St. Petersburg Times account of Brown-Waite quote

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite

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