Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Big Juneteenth celebration in St. Petersburg takes a pause

ST. PETERSBURG — More than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free.

That day, June 19, 1865, is now commemorated annually by African-Americans across the country. It's known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. The Tampa Bay area will observe it with events including the cleanup of a historic black cemetery in Pasco County on Tuesday and festivals in Plant City, Brooksville and Port Richey today. In St. Petersburg, though, a community celebration held since 1992 in a city park has been called off.

"I was devastated, and I was really heartbroken about it," said Faye Dowdell, who organized the event in recent years before putting it in the hands of another resident last fall.

"It's a really beloved event, and people are going to miss it," said Elizabeth Brincklow, arts and international relations manager for the city of St. Petersburg. The city provided $8,453 for the event last year, and a little over $3,000 was promised for this June.

Dowdell took over as organizer in 2007, after Jeanie Blue, the woman who launched the celebration, became discouraged and gave it up after 14 years. Blue said at the time that running the event had become stressful and financially burdensome. Dowdell encountered similar problems and last fall turned it over to a man called Alex Burns. Then, she said, "I heard from him he put it in a forced hiatus."

Michael Jefferis, superintendent of St. Petersburg's parks and recreation department, said employees have tried to contact Burns for six months. The Tampa Bay Times has also been unable to reach Burns.

"From the city's perspective, our concern was that we didn't receive an application for co-sponsorship," Jefferis said. "It's certainly unfortunate. It's always been a great event, always a meaningful event."

Dowdell will be involved in a smaller event this year. She has been invited to share the Juneteenth story Tuesday at the West St. Petersburg Community Library at St. Petersburg College.

In Plant City, the annual celebration will go on as usual. It will include entertainment, food and fishing, said Sharon Moody, president of Plant City Black Heritage, who organized the first Juneteenth event several years ago.

Moody said her group advertises the celebration at schools, churches, the housing authority and even door to door. "It's a nice crowd," she said. "We're looking for a better crowd this year."

Paul Boston began Brooksville's Juneteenth observance with a rally on the courthouse steps in 2004. These days the area celebrates at the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge.

"What we try to do is inform the community about the history of slavery, educate our children about that message and explore the negativity of modern slavery, low-paying jobs, renting instead of owning your own house, inadequate education," he said.

The Black Caucus of Pasco County will continue its tradition of cleaning up historic Mount Carmel Cemetery.

The African American Club of Pasco has organized a more traditional Juneteenth celebration. The festival at the former Booker T. Washington School in Port Richey will include a garage sale, health screening and guest speaker Evangeline Moore, daughter of pioneer civil rights leaders Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette, who were killed when a bomb exploded in their home in Mims on Christmas 1951.

About 200 to 300 people attended the event last year, Dan Callaghan said. "It has grown each year, and it's really a lot of fun."

Juneteenth began in Texas, where it has been celebrated as a state holiday on June 19 since 1980.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments

As temperatures fall and rise, Tampa braces for another round of water main breaks

TAMPA — This week’s cold snap is expected to keep the city of Tampa’s utility crews busy over the next few days.The city is bracing for another spike in water main breaks as temperatures climb from this morning’s near record lows and another round of...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Sometimes, people in authority need a reality check before they can recognize a problem that should have been obvious.In this case, it took a meticulously reported story last Sunday by education writer Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times to alert Hi...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

TAMPA — The bearded man with shackled hands sat slumped and weeping as he listened to witness after witness — his mom, aunt and sister among them — recount his childhood of poverty, abuse, and depression.Kyle Moran leaned forward occasionally, stretc...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Winter weather deaths climb to 15 as the South cleans up snow

Winter weather deaths climb to 15 as the South cleans up snow

The deep freeze that shut down much of the South began to relent Thursday as crews salted and cleared roads after a slow-moving storm left ice and snow in places that usually enjoy mild winters. At least 15 people were killed in accidents and frigid ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Oldsmar rejects plan to host cycling event

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 3-2 against hosting a 2018 BMX World Cup qualifying event that would have brought 200 elite riders to the city and been broadcast in 42 counties. The decision came in December after two lengthy discussions about Oldsm...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Safety Harbor centennial banners on sale for $50

SAFETY HARBOR — Safety Harbor commemorative centennial banners are on sale for $50, with proceeds to benefit the city’s Partners in Progress Youth Scholarship fund. To purchase a banner, fill out the order form at safetyharbor.com and return with pay...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Contest seeks designs for new bike racks at Safety Harbor library

Contest seeks designs for new bike racks at Safety Harbor library

SAFETY HARBOR — The Safety Harbor Public Library and the Friends of the Safety Harbor Library are seeking design submissions for bike racks with an artistic flair as two traditional library bike racks at the facility will be replaced with ones design...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters — and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg is on it.Miami, however, made the short list of cities left vying for the new build. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties had ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hurricane Hermine damage to Largo’s road base still being worked on

Hurricane Hermine damage to Largo’s road base still being worked on

LARGO — Almost 16 months after Hurricane Hermine drenched Largo, city leaders are still working on cleaning up the mess it left behind, awarding a contract for the repair of several roads damaged by the storm.City commissioners voted 7-0 during a mee...
Updated: 2 hours ago