ST. PETERSBURG — The Jordan Park Projects Nostalgic Association (JPPNA) hosted its third annual Black History Celebration: “Pioneers and Trailblazers” Mon., Feb 24 at the Enoch Davis Center.
The program paid tribute to 11 selected seniors who were residents in Jordan Park. Each honoree was given a plaque in honor of their impact, support and humanitarian efforts shown to residents of the Jordan Park Projects. Eight of the 11 are still living, and the remaining three deceased received theirs posthumously and were accepted by family members.
The celebration was held in the auditorium decorated with red, black and green balloon and tablecloths, the colors symbolic of the African-American flag that evolved from Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.
There was certainly no shortage of attendees; the event was packed with the families of the honorees, JPPNA members and former residents of Jordan Park Projects. This year’s attendance was overwhelming as the auditorium was at maximum capacity.
Rev. Paul Brown spoke on his memories of Jordan Park. He reflected on being one of the first residents to move into the housing development, the plight of blacks during that era, the honored family values as a result of having lived there and reminded the audience of the many residents that had gone on to achieve acclaim in academia, sports, medicine and activism.
Lewis also briefly spoke about the honorees longevity and abundant life experiences.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Rikaya Williams, who performed an inspirational mime dance and a harmonic duet by brothers Ricky and Clarence Williams. The entertainers are the grandchildren of honoree Gloria Wooten Williams.
The honorees expressed their gratitude for being recognized as pioneers and trailblazers: Rev. Paul Brown, Melissa Brown, Maggie Church Brown, Ann Mitchell, Archie Thompson, Lizzie L. Daniels, posthumously, Willie Mae Taylor Fletcher, Charles “Pop” Payne, Ruth Williams, posthumously, Beatrice A. Davis, posthumously and Gloria Wooten Williams.
All posthumous honorees were represented by family members. The plaques thanked them for their impact, support and humanitarian efforts as a resident of Jordan Park Projects.
Brenda Gilstrap, newly elected president, was the Mistress of Ceremony for the evening. Leroy Lewis, the black history chairperson who also received an award for his dedication to JPPNA, gave closing remarks. He and Connie Small were presented as Mr. and Ms. Jordan Park (a title bestowed upon them during the holiday gala).
At the culmination of the recognition program, an overflowing crowd celebrated the occasion with the honorees by enjoying a buffet variety of flavorful ethnic food.
The JPPNA, Inc. annually hosts a Black Heritage Recognition Program on the fourth Monday in February to recognize well deserving individuals for their great contributions to the community.