For the fifth consecutive year, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson flag was raised over City Hall on the first day of February for Black History Month.
BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Not even inclement weather could stop history from being made in St. Pete. For the fifth consecutive year, Mayor Rick Kriseman, along with city administration, raised the Dr. Carter G. Woodson flag over City Hall.
Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, received a text message on the cold and rainy first day of February, asking if she wanted to proceed with the flag-raising ceremony. Her response was “absolutely.”
“When giving consideration to the navigation of the Underground Railroad and the weather conditions, when giving consideration in 1913 when women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority marched at the back of the Women’s Suffrage Movement… and those inclement weather conditions.
“When giving consideration in 1965 to those marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in inclement weather conditions; when giving consideration in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his last speech and it was one of the stormiest nights to remember… the thought of me wanting to postpone this day in history, absolutely not.”
In the early 1900s, Dr. Woodson, a journalist and American historian, tirelessly worked to bring the celebration of African-American contributions to light. Along with Minister Jesse Moreland, he founded a group dedicated to promoting the achievements of black people throughout the nation.
In February of 1926, he launched the idea of a “Negro History Week,” later extending to what is now celebrated as a month-long appreciation of black culture.
Black History Month always has a theme, and this year’s is African Americans and the vote.
“We need your voice now more than ever,” said Mayor Kriseman, who urged those in attendance to not only get out and vote but to be sure everyone they knew from coworkers to family and friends was registered and ready come poll time.
“Everyone here knows what you need to do this election year.”
He reminded of how last year’s vote resulted in two African-American women, Lisa Wheeler Bowman and Deborah Figgs-Sanders, being elected to the city council for the first time in history. On any given Thursday, up to four African-American women sit on the Council Dais to include Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Dr. Kanika Tomalin and Assistant City Attorney Jeannine Williams.
With 12 seats, that’s a third of them belonging to African-American women, a feat that up until recently has never existed.
“This is what St. Pete looks like in 2020,” said Mayor Kriseman. “We are a city that doesn’t just recognize and honor our national heroes, but our local ones, too.”
Kriseman went on to express the importance of gathering together to honor the people who are not only leading the Woodson Museum today but who are also building its future.
So along with community members and elected officials, Kriseman helped raised the flag to pay tribute to those who came to this county in chains, endured fighting for civil rights and those who blazed so many trails both in St. Petersburg and around the nation.
“Let’s raise this flag again,” said Kriseman, “to tell the world why the sun shines here, even on the cloudiest or rainiest of days.”