Open letter to Senator Darryl Rouson

Dr. Goliath J. Davis

Senator Rouson, as you know, I have supported your election campaigns as well as other initiatives you have championed, to include economic development for our Midtown communities. You and I had conversations recently regarding the Courageous Twelve and the community’s desire for the City of St. Petersburg to erect a memorial recognizing their landmark contributions to civil rights in St. Petersburg and the nation.

Early reports suggested you do not feel the Courageous Twelve’s actions warranted a memorial.  During one of our conversations, you indicated you were more inclined to endorse Mayor Kriseman’s position that a memorial would have to be funded by contributions from the community.

In fact, you indicated you suggested the public-private campaign and committed to leading the charge to raise the required funds. Many feel your actions have derailed the community’s process.

As you know, city council members voted unanimous approval for a Courageous Twelve memorial and suggested a wall plaque is insufficient.

As of this writing, it appears your voice, and your presence is absent on this matter. Ironically, you are omnipresent and vociferous on other issues – African American burial sites in Tampa and criminal drug sentences.

I favor resolution of both issues and remind you that citizens from St. Petersburg also voted for you and would very much like your activism for a memorial honoring twelve courageous individuals who improved the quality of life for everyone, black and white, and made our professional careers possible.

Spare me a lengthy discourse on other initiatives you have fought for in St. Petersburg. We appreciate your efforts. The Courageous Twelve memorial is center stage.

Rainita Deloach Stephens, daughter of Courageous Officer Raymond Deloach, was buried Nov. 12. Other Courageous Twelve family members are seniors and fully supported their loved ones’ commitment to equality and civil rights.

Must someone else die longing for memorial recognition of their loved one as the slow pace of bureaucracy and fundraising drags on?

Senator Rouson, from where I sit, it appears you created this mess.  I appeal to you during this campaign season to show your St. Petersburg constituents the same intensity and vigor you are displaying in Tampa.

Regarding the community’s initiative to secure a substantial memorial for the Courageous Twelve, you derailed it — so you now own it. We need the memorial, and we need it now. Where are the funds you committed to raising?

Respectfully,

Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

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