James B. Sanderlin Black History Award honors William Darling and Elder Jordan, Sr.

Judge James B. Sanderlin

ST. PETERSBURG — Historic McCabe United Methodist Church will honor community leaders William “Bill” Darling and Elder Jordan, Sr. at the third annual James B. Sanderlin Black History Award Sunday, Feb. 16.

This year marks the first year that two recipients were selected, and the first year that one recipient will receive the award posthumously.

Jordan, Sr. is known in the City of St. Petersburg for erecting the Manhattan Casino, constructing housing, a bus line and a beach for African Americans during the time of segregation. He also negotiated the purchase of land for the historic McCabe Memorial Methodist Church, which constructed its new building in 1919 at Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue South. 

He also served as a trustee for the historic church. Because of his actions, McCabe Memorial Methodist Church was able to adapt and thrive in serving the south St. Petersburg community and beyond in this specific location for 50 years. In 1969, it relocated to its present site and became McCabe United Methodist Church.

Darling and his family became members of McCabe United Methodist Church in the early 1970s. He founded the First Tee of St. Petersburg more than a decade ago at McCabe United Methodist Church to guide at-risk and disadvantaged African-American youth in developing skills necessary to succeed academically and socially. First Tee is now housed at the Twin Brooks Golf Course. 

More than just a golf program, First Tee provides much-needed mentorship that teaches youth participants life skills such as confidence, persistence, determination, sportsmanship, honesty and integrity. 

Through First Tee, Darling has brought hundreds of African-American youth, both boys and girls, into the arena of junior golf. First Tee collaborates with other local organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Tyrone Middle School’s Police Athletic League and Academy Prep. 

This year will be McCabe’s third year presenting the James B. Sanderlin Black History Award, named after the first African-American judge in Pinellas County. As an attorney during the Civil Rights Movement, Sanderlin used litigation to fight for equality and against discrimination.

Past recipients include Leon Jackson of the Courageous Twelve and local civil rights activist Dr. Arnett Smith, Jr.

McCabe considers it a blessing to give back to civil rights pioneers and community leaders who sacrificed their safety, well-being, personal goals, academic studies, livelihood and so much more so that we could have what we have today.

About James B. Sanderlin

Not only was James B. Sanderlin the first African-American judge in Pinellas County, but he also devoted his career to unifying blacks and whites in his community to move toward social and legal equality. Among his many achievements, Sanderlin successfully sued the St. Petersburg Police Department, forcing them to integrate, and represented the sanitation workers in the city’s 1968 garbage strike.

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