Residents want action, not promises, for Midtown

Advocates. A group of Midtown women during the reunion of the National Council of Negro Women in St. Pete.

BY INDHIRA SUERO, NNB Reporter

ST. PETERSBURG – Equality. Infrastructure. Employment training.

Without a doubt, Midtown women demonstrate that they are aware of the needs of their community. Most of them do not hesitate when addressing their needs, especially with upcoming elections Nov. 3.

Some of them — like Angela Rouson, the president of the National Council of Negro Women of St. Petersburg  — wish that elected officials continue to make the a level playing field.

So, someone living in South St. Pete does not have to travel all the way downtown to take advantage of resources like shopping and entertainment.

“That there are no barriers for you to go to see a movie, or go to the library. South St Pete didn’t even had a post office at one time and in the last few years they have established one,” said Rouson. “The community rally for us to keep it. Simple things like that make a huge difference; that you can take a four minutes trip to go to the post office, not a 15-minute trip to have a package delivered,” Rouson added.

Dianne Speights, vice-president of the Negro Council, considers education and demands help for the vast percentage of African American students who are failing.

“Whatever that route is that is hindering our children’s success, we must find where it is and fix it,” Speights said.

Others, as Negro Council member Katheryn Read, agree.

Everything starts with the school system and by providing adequate education to the children, she said.

“One of the focuses is educating our children and giving them same opportunities as others individuals. They don’t have the same resources or the adequate teachers so just sharing a will, going into the school system because we know if they’re not adequate educated that could affect the community, eventually,” said Read.

Read — who also works with employment training — highlights the importance of job placement training.

“I know they have the 2020 Plan, but we need to go out and partner with different businesses so they can go out and take some young people under their wings and train them for their jobs, or let them go there for the summer to work. If they can’t work or sustain their way of life then Midtown isn’t going to change,” said Read.

Churches

While Deborah Green, the first African-American female to pastor a Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, thinks that the person that wins needs to make sure to pay attention to Midtown and to continue what the city officials started on 22nd Street South.

“I think that upgrading the business area to 34th Street South because is a good place to put a lot of businesses and we have a lot of vacant buildings. The way they implemented and upgraded Downtown St. Pete is what they have to do with Midtown,” Green said.

One other thing that the pastor addresses is juvenile delinquency and the need for more work programs for these young kids in the summer time.

“The new chief is trying to find ways to pardon some of these minor offenses that some of the kids are getting because if a kid ends up with a chart they can’t go to college,” Green said. “College is not accepting children with certain types of charges.”

The Reverend considers that there are lots of things that need to get done in the city, but believes necessary to pay attention to the aspects that need more help.

“If we don’t get the education we’re gonna have a bunch of fools running our city and it’s gonna get crazy,” Green said.

Bishop Clarice Pennington, of the Christian Generation Center of Hope Church, would like to see more educational opportunities available to the people in Midtown because their children have to go to the north side for activities such as the skating rink. Pennington also sees a disparity in the types of recreation centers and amenities available.

Promises

Candidates in the upcoming election include Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Winthrop “Will” Newton for District 7; and Philip Garrett and Steven L. Kornell in District 5.

Residents don’t want to be left with empty promises.

“A lot of times, too often, we see the politicians out there, campaigning and coming to the churches, yet when the campaign is over and it’s time for them to work they disappear,” said Read. “So we need someone that will represent the community from the beginning to the end and a lot of times we don’t have that.”

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