Celebration applauds contributions by black people

02/08/08 Reif Russell Anderson
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A diverse group of judges, civil rights activists, educators, and ground-breaking former students was honored by Hillsborough County Commissioners at today’s Black Heritage Celebration. The efforts of some of the many brave pioneers of the Desegregation movement were described and applauded.

Commissioner Kevin White gave some historical perspective.

One of the pioneers of desegregation in Hillsborough County honored today was Andrew Manning. His family’s name was attached to the class-action lawsuit filed in 1958 to allow black students to attend “whites-only” schools in the Tampa area. He recalled with emotion how his mother’s determination helped him get his wish- to transfer from all–black Dunbar Elementary to all-white McFarlane Park Elementary.

But Andrew Manning also expressed concern about some of the inequities that still need to be addressed today. The struggle to fully integrate Hillsborough County schools took more than four decades to achieve.

U.S.District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich was honored today for her role in spurring local schools to comply with federal law. In 2001, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit under Judge Kovachevich declared the Hillsborough County School District to have obtained full integration.

The keynote speaker at today’s Black Heritage Celebration was Dr. Paulette C. Walker, co-author of the book, We Can Have Better Urban Schools. She is currently the director of Undergraduate Programs and Internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. Her motto: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Dr. Walker gave thanks and credit to Hillsborough County and to all of the individuals being honored at today’s celebration.

Photo credit: Reif Russell Anderson / WMNF

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