Last Saturday, in the ambient glow of candlelight, amid much pomp and circumstance, 33 leaders of St. Petersburg's African-American community were lauded for their contributions to the city's common good.
The inaugural Legends Ball, a fundraiser presented by the Friends of the Carter G. Woodson Museum, filled the grand ballroom of the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront with more than 300 well-wishers, from as far away as Washington, D.C.
The event was the brainchild of Terri Lipsey Scott, who in addition to organizing the Friends of the Museum, also coordinated the museum's Legacy Garden, the community project for Leadership St. Pete's Class of 2008.
"We wanted to host a signature event that would pay homage to the distinguished leaders who have been beacons in the African-American community. From the buzz that Saturday's gala has generated, we think we've accomplished that," Scott said.
That sentiment was echoed from several community leaders who were in attendance.
"What a marvelous event," said Frank Biafora, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
"What the ball was able to accomplish was to set into motion an annual fundraising event for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum. It needed a source to take it into the future, and this was the event."
Honored in 12 categories, the Legends were chosen for contributions that continually resonate in the lives of St. Petersburg residents.
From Dr. Fred Alsup, the city's first physician to admit an African-American patient to Mound Park Hospital (now Bayfront Medical Center); to George Perkins, an educator for whom one of Pinellas County's most notable elementary schools is named, the results of the work of the evening's honorees play a lasting role in the quality of life for many in Pinellas County.
"It was magnificent. It was a beautiful ending to a fantastic journey in leaving a legacy for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum. It was the cherry on the top — the beautiful Legends Ball," said Pamela Miller, vice president of development for Family Resources, a nonprofit charity.
For many, the evening was a reunion with their motivation for making a difference. "It was a blessing to see the good work of so many given its due," said Darryl Rouson, state representative, District 55.
Proceeds from the Legends Ball will benefit programs of the Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg. In categorical order, the 2008 Legends include:
Law Enforcement: Courageous Twelve, Goliath Davis III.
Broadcast Media: Goldie Thompson, Dianne Hughes.
Community Activism: Iveta Martin-Berry, the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.
Education: George Perkins, Vyrle Davis.
Legal: The Hon. James B. Sanderlin, Jeanine Williams, Esq.
Entrepreneurship: Cleveland Johnson, Eugene and P.J. Benton Danzey.
Faith-Based Leadership: The Rev. Dr. Enoch Davis, the Rev. Dr. Wayne Thompson.
Medical: Dr. Fred Alsup, Dr. Paul McRae.
Social Justice: Perkins Shelton, Sevelle Brown.
Sports: Nathaniel Love Brown, Glen Edwards.
Journalism: Peggy Peterman, Dr. Karen Brown-Dunlap.