The Woodson African American Museum of Florida played host to the 2022 Legacy Awards Dinner, held on Saturday, June 4.
By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Woodson African American Museum of Florida was host to this year’s Legacy Awards Dinner, held on Saturday, June 4. It was the first time the award ceremony was held in person since the onset of COVID.
This year’s awards honored Mrs. Thelma Bruce, Rep. Michele Rayner, Bay News 9 reporter Trevor Pettiford, and Rafael Sciullo, president of Empath Health/Suncoast Hospice.
Museum Executive Director Terri Lipsey-Scott was on hand to welcome the guests, while the evening was hosted by the mistress of ceremony and Legacy Week committee member Karen Davis-Pritchett, along with the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Rev. J.C. Pritchett II.
The Business Award was presented to Empath Health/Suncoast Hospice President Rafael Sciullo. Pritchett shared that the factors considered in the award were commitment to equity and allies and friends sharing their resources and connections with the African-American community.
Sciullo, stated Pritchett, had partnered with Legacy Week “since day one.” This enabled the award presentation to happen at the Empath location in south St. Petersburg for five years straight.
“That was a big deal to be able to meet at that Empath location in south St. Petersburg, where my wife’s family member, the late elder Clarence Welch, was one of the founding board members of Suncoast Hospice,” stated Pritchett.
He noted that Sciullo is “a business partner who makes their facility available, writes a check, and then makes their staff available to inform our community about what it is that the company does.”
Of the Peggy Peterman Storyteller award, Pritchett said the choice for Trevor Pettiford was an obvious “no-brainer,” noting Pettiford could be counted on to “tell our story.” Pettiford, he said, “understands our culture, our background, our history; he knows that there’s a bright future for our community, and so he fights for our stories to get airtime.”
Calling him a “professional, a gentleman” who is passionate about his community, the pastor noted that it’s an especially vital time to have Pettiford as an advocate.
“If there’s ever a time for the African-American story to be told, it is now — when the big lie about critical race theory and other attempts are being made to keep the truth about this country’s history from us. We have Trevor here locally every day who’s fighting to tell the stories about our community.”
This year’s Pioneer Award went to Thelma Bruce, who was one of the first Black people to attend Dixie High School in Kenneth City, which is well-known for its racist past. “[Some] Black folks still don’t go to Kenneth City today; the history of what Kenneth City still reverberates in our community,” noted Pritchett. The pioneering courage of Bruce was recognized along her many years in the field of social service.
Additionally, as a long-time leader of the National Council of Negro Women, Pritchett relayed, “She’s just a great example of leadership, especially Black women leadership.” Noting the recent appointment of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Vice President Kamala Harris, it was good to acknowledge Bruce, said Pritchett, as “we are demanding that African-American women are respected in their various roles and leadership throughout the country; she is a great example of that. We love Thelma Bruce.”
The final awardee, Rep. Michele Rayner, was proving her worth as someone who is constantly advocating for the rights of our communities. “We hired her to fight, and she’s a fighter.” Rayner came to the IMA and the community’s attention during the Stand Your Ground killing of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater.
“We were able to see what kind of social justice attorney she was and what kind of litigator and fighter she was. So, when she ran the House of Representatives the first time, we knew that she was going to fight for us the same as she fought for that family, and how she fights for the oppressed and the marginalized throughout this community.”