Campbell Park Recreation Center held their black history celebration Thurs., Feb. 27. With a large teen participation, this celebration was a perfect example of our youth doing great things in the community.
The night was packed with tributes to African-American history such as creative dance, Negro spirituals performed by the kids from ACT 1 and biographies read by the Campbell Park teens dressed as their historical figure.
In many black history celebrations, the same names are repeated year after year. There is more to black history than Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriet Tubman, and the kids proved that they were aware of their history.
After Angel Anderson finished reading, the audience was chomping at the bit to yell out, “Mary McCloud Bethune!” When Denitra Howard read her biography, the room was quiet. Not the usual black history figure, someone finally said Cleopatra.
Some teens let the audience know who they were reading about beforehand such as Charles Brooks the inventor of the street sweeper and Charles Crum the inventor of the potato chip.
Others gave interesting factoids such as Maya Angelo’s good friend, Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated on her birthday. She stopped celebrating her birthday and started sending flowers to his widow, Coretta Scott King, on the anniversary of his assassination every year until Mrs. King’s death in 2006.
After a meal fit for a king consisting of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, Fran Gammage and Carlos Daniels honored retiring city employees Mattie Adams, Thomas Jet Jackson and Ethel Monroe.
Adams began her career with the City of St. Petersburg in 1974, and came to Campbell Park at the end of December in 1984 as the arts and craft teacher.
Gammage thanked her for being a role model for 40 years, and for being a great cook. Next honoree was Thomas Jet Jackson who has been working for the City of St. Petersburg almost as many years as he’s been alive. At 14 years old, he became a lifeguard instructor at South Mole Beach. He became a full-time employee in 1964. After returning from college, he moved his way up through the ranks in the recreation department.
On April 23, 1979, Thomas was promoted to a supervisory position and will retire as the manager of the Parks and Recreation Department/Leisure Services.The last honoree for the evening was Ethel Monroe, who has been employed with the city since 1977. She slipped out early because she didn’t want everyone making a big fuss over her.
If she had stayed, she would have heard the love everyone felt for her. “You have been a great asset to not only the city of St. Petersburg, but to the Campbell Park community. We always knew that our customers were in good hands when they were with you because you were so patient and sensitive to everyone’s needs,” said Gammage as she tried to hold back the tears.