ST. PETERSBURG – Organized in 2015, Legacy-56, Inc. (L56), a cross-section of professionals and former classmates born in 1956 and raised on the south side of St. Petersburg, steps forward to encourage the community to remember, reclaim, restore and realize the value of cultural heritage in promoting equity and excellence.
Key leaders of L56 were already positioned for impact such as the founding president and chair of the board of directors Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall. A retired University of South Florida professor of psychology and sought-after Bay area clinician, Jenkins-Hall now serves as vice-chair of the board of trustees for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, an organization whose mission is to promote health equity in south St. Petersburg.
L56’s Vice-Chair Loretta Monroe Calvin is well-known for her diversity/inclusion and business strategy consulting in St. Pete. She is currently executive director for the Edible Peace Patch, an organization in Pinellas County that seeks to produce healthy minds and bodies through hands-on educational gardens.
Sarah E. Ward, board treasurer, serves on the board of Faith and Action for Strength Together on the education committee, which brings congregations together to solve problems for Pinellas County.
Board Secretary Thomas Pittman, who lives in Jacksonville and works in Duval County Schools with special needs children, brings a wealth of experience in community engagement and parent advocacy.
Other board members include Lorene Blossom, business development, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta and Regina Rosier, retired educator with Pinellas County Schools.
Realizing that the mission of L56 could not be effectively accomplished without the help of a younger generation of board members, the organization recently added three millennial leaders in the field of education: Aisheeda Benjamin, Shannon Dolly and JerJuan Green.
“The intergenerational transfer begins with our board,” said Calvin, who feels it is important to add a diverse perspective in order to pass the legacy forward.
In the spirit of Sankofa – a West African word meaning to reach back and fetch it, L56 urges its community to go back and gather what has been lost and reclaim their cultural, racial and spiritual identities. The organization promotes the significance of academic scholarship, artistic expression and shared spirituality while demonstrating how meaningful relationships solidify and strengthen a community.
The organization is preparing to launch two inaugural mission-driven events including Read to Remember – Remember to Read on Jan. 13, 2018, in conjunction with funding from the MLK Day of Service and its own soon-to-be signature event Legacy-56 Sankofa Series.
The inaugural Sankofa Series is slated for February 10, 2018, with A Journey Home: An Evening Honoring the Legacy of Kenny Leon. L56 will be establishing Leon’s work in Pinellas County Schools through August Wilson monologue competitions.
L56 is also working alongside others in the community to advocate excellence and racial equity to impact change. Their community partners include local churches, private and public schools, the City of St. Petersburg, Bay Area Businesses for Performing Arts, Arts Conservatory for Teens, Pinellas County Urban League, NAACP, St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.
“It was always expected that we, student leaders of our time, would someday return home to give back to the community that nurtured our paths, declared Jenkins-Hall. “That time has come, and our time is now.”
Jenkins-Hall believes in order to impact the change that is critical to reclaiming the community, they must commit themselves to a methodology of listening and learning before planning and engaging. L56 anticipates that their initiatives will have both impact and longevity.
“The ball was fumbled on our watch and we must pick it up and run with it,” said Pittman. “We are not just looking for technical solutions, we are seeking systemic change.”
Legacy-56, Inc., a non-profit organization founded by former classmates, now thought-leaders, is raising cultural consciousness to promote systemic change throughout St. Petersburg.