Darryl Rouson, President of the St. Petersburg Chapter of the NAACP, addressed a packed house at a meeting of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today. Rouson had sparked the interest of Tampa Bay’s politicos as he revealed weeks ago that he would make a surprise announcement at the Tiger Bay Club luncheon.

Rumors were put to rest when Rouson made the following announcement:

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Rouson is a former drug addict and alcoholic, who conquered his addiction problem and said he has been clean and sober for over five years. He earned a law degree from Stetson University. He was elected as President of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP in 2000, and reelected last November for a second term.

AS NAACP President, Rouson has an unapologetic, confrontational, “in your face� attitude, demanding that policies be changed to include minorities:

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He had this to say to his critics:

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A member of the Tiger Bay Club, Rouson criticized the organization, saying that only 4 of the past 56 speakers to address the club were black, only ten were women.

He issued several challenges to the community, including to Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice:

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He cited the NAACP’s accomplishments during his presidency, including persuading the St. Petersburg times newspaper to include its first-ever black Board member, and the success in including black contractors on the Gibbs High School renovation project. However, Rouson said there is work to be done to influence developer Opus One to include minority contractors on its big Mid-town development project:

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He also challenged local banks to put black members on their Boards of Directors, and said that he has encouraged black ministers to put their churches’ money in financial institutions whose leaders reflect the community.

Rouson said that he met earlier today with former Republican Congressman Bill McCollum, who is hoping to win the United States Senator’s seat being vacated by democrat Bob Graham. Rouson, who is not affiliated with a political party, has been sharply criticized for supporting Republican Governor Jeb Bush. He described a conversation with a long-time democratic black attorney:

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Rouson received thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the usually reserved Tiger Bay club. Audience members even shed tears as he spoke of his vision for equality in St. Petersburg.

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