St. Pete celebrates Black History Month

Mayor Rick Kriseman speaking at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum Black History Month flag raising at City Hall on Feb. 1

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — “We are proud to live in a city where Black lives matter; where Black history matters,” exclaimed Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, at the annual raising of the Black History Month flag outside City Hall on Feb. 1.

Since 2016, Mayor Rick Kriseman has seen to it that St. Pete recognizes Black history as American history. And with this being the last time he raises the flag as mayor, he chose to reflect how far we have come as a nation since he took office in 2013.

“Kamala Harris, a woman of color, is our history-making vice president,” he said. “Our neighbors to the north in Georgia have sent their first African-American senator to Congress, a Congress that has never been as diverse as it is today. And my friend who ran the United States Central Command just across the Bay in Tampa, General Lloyd Austin, is now the first African-American secretary of defense in history.”

Back home, he mentioned that the Courageous 12 would finally be memorialized and the completion of the newly renovated main library renamed after President Barack Obama.

Kriseman went on to say that we are at a crossroads in this country, citing last month’s storming of the Capitol building by armed insurrectionists. He’s surprised there is a debate taking place among lawmakers about the consequences of these acts.

“There shouldn’t be a debate. I believe in accountability for those who break the law,” he said, adding that members of Congress who encouraged this violence are not fit for public office. Kriseman called the rioters “rebranded Klansmen, racists driven by hate and fear of a country that looks less and less like they do.”

Lipsey Scott praised Kriseman and city leadership for saving the museum when it was met with closure and gifting them 5.5 acres of land and $1 million to begin the process of creating a new space for the Woodson Museum.

“This is indeed leadership we can be proud of,” said Scott, noting the museum’s growth in programming, exhibitions, advocacy, attendance and respect.

She also thanked the mayor for his support with the Woodson’s Black Lives Matter street mural, making it the first of its kind in the state of Florida.

“Thank you for your leadership when respecting African-American history, celebrating African-American history, preserving Black history and honoring the father of Black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Your leadership exemplifies the statement: “Together, we rise.”

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