Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NAACP banquet will showcase children's tribute to officers killed in action

ST. PETERSBURG — A tribute to three police officers who lost their lives on duty this year will cap the St. Petersburg NAACP branch's 78th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday.

The program also will include presentations to community leaders for achievements in areas such as education, religion, politics and social service.

The theme of the gathering at the St. Petersburg Coliseum, "Affirming America's Promise," will echo that of the national organization.

"It's a very relevant time for a theme like that,'' said the Rev. Manuel Sykes, president of the St. Petersburg NAACP branch.

"It talks about constitutional amendments and other changes that occurred to the civil rights movement and other laws that were passed that guarantee equality and justice and fairness for all people, African-Americans in particular. What this is, is taking a look back at how those things have or have not been applied and a renewed emphasis on making sure those things continue. … We don't want rhetoric to replace these rights based upon fear or any other kind of tactic.''

The evening's keynote speaker will be U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Judge Robert N. Davis. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Deputy Police Chief Luke Williams are expected to be among the officials who will attend. R&B legend Jeffrey Osborne will perform.

Honorary chairman of the banquet will be Bill Edwards, chairman and chief executive officer of Big 3 Entertainment, which recently was awarded the contract for managing the city-owned Mahaffey Theater.

Edwards was asked to be the event's honorary chairman because of his company's record of "reaching out and giving resources to the African-American community and because they have supported us in a very strong way,'' Sykes said.

"It's really a refreshing experience when companies that are that large are willing to support and promote agencies that work with minority youth and youth in general, as well as organizations like the NAACP, whose goal it is to advocate for equal rights and equal treatment under the law."

Big 3 Entertainment produced the song and video that will be performed by the Boys & Girls Club of St. Petersburg to honor canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz, Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and Officer David S. Crawford, who were killed this year.

"I think it's a good thing coming from minority kids,'' Sykes said of the song, Let's Get Together, that was written by members of the club.

"It's a special thing showing that we are cognizant of, and compassionate toward, the suffering of the officers' families and that we support the police officers and what they do. In fact, their role in affirming America's promise is vital.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Fast facts

If you go

St. Petersburg NAACP branch's 78th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, St. Petersburg Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N. Tickets are $60 per person and $600 for a table of 10. Purchase online at or call 1-888-695-0888. Proceeds will benefit local NAACP community outreach programs.

NAACP banquet will showcase children's tribute to officers killed in action 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 3:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Accountability plan, post-Irma, turnarounds and more


    ACCOUNTABILITY: The Florida Department of Education submits a revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan without the waiver requests it had originally proposed. Experts and advocates …

    High Point Elementary teacher Kristen Bierman works with English language learners on their reading skills. The state wants to test all students in English, saying it's Florida law.
  2. Rays morning after: Zim's legacy felt on bunt play



  3. Work, threats continue as Hernando recovers from Irma

    Local Government


    Hurricane Irma's fierce winds are becoming a memory, but the water the storm left behind has become a real threat on Hernando's east side.

    This aerial drone view shows flooding on the Withlacoochee River in the Talisman Estates area of east Hernando, south of Ridge Manor. The river is about 6 feet above flood stage, and its floodwaters are not expected to recede for days.
  4. A boy and a girl stare at the camera from their house after Hurrciane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Prss]
  5. Forecast: Dry air, hot temperatures remain in control across Tampa Bay


    Dry but hot weather will continue Thursday across Tampa Bay with only a 20 percent chance of showers forecast for the afternoon.

    7 day forecast. [WTSP]