GPPCA Celebrates Black History

As you walked into the fellowship hall of Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church Tuesday evening, the sounds of up-tempo jazz greeted you at the door. Usually the Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association (GPPCA) monthly meetings aren’t so festive, but the February 25 meeting was also their Black History Month program.

Jodi Davis, president of GPPCA, got the program started with Thelma McCloud, a representative of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum African American Museum, 2240 9th Ave S., St. Petersburg. McCloud invited the audience to visit this “beautiful oasis in the middle of Midtown.” She stressed the importance of having access to an African-American museum.

“If we as a race do not have a history, then what do we have worthwhile,” she asked as she mentioned the exhibits, the beautiful Legacy Gardens and the different events that happen there monthly.

She also mentioned the opportunity to purchase a brick with your name or corporation’s name on it that will be placed in the Legacy Garden. The last installment of the month-long lecture series will take place Friday, February 28th at 6pm. It will focus on the black woman in a program called “Power, Pride and Elegance: Exploring Black Femininity and the Arts.” For more information, call 727-323-1104.

The jazz that had the fellowship hall swaying was being performed by Lakewood Jazz Ensemble from Lakewood High School. Between speakers and while the food was being served, the band played melodiously. Band teacher and piano player in the ensemble, Jacob Merrett, explained that the jazz ensemble has an opportunity to travel to the birth place of jazz — New Orleans, but not without the community’s help.

If anyone would like to donate to the Lakewood Jazz Ensemble and have them come play at your event, call 727-893-2916 ext. 2189 or email

While attendees feasted, actor and motivational speaker Donald Dowridge began performing a historical piece from portions of one of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies entitled “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.”

The performance by Dowridge was riveting. He presented his captivating and emotionally charged portrayal of Douglass from enslavement to freedom all while becoming a strong advocate and ambassador for the antislavery movement in America.

While the audience sat enthralled, Dowridge was able to give a history lesson and shed some light on this dark period of in American’s past.

Rounding out the evening was Tavaris Butler with a spoken word piece he wrote the day before. He admits to procrastinating, but when he sat down and asked the Lord for help, what came forth was an account of the African-American journey.

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