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Six more Tampa pioneers to be honored on Riverwalk

TAMPA — They represent what Mayor Bob Buckhorn describes as "the great paella that we call Tampa."

Two were black businessmen who insured, informed and inspired their community. Two founded leading law firms and did a lot more. One was a progressive who, one mayor had said, "would not be denied." And one was an early integrationist who rallied to Jose Marti's fight for Cuban independence.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit Friends of the Riverwalk announced the next six Tampa trailblazers to be honored with a bronze and marble bust along the trail.

They are Florida Sentinel Bulletin publisher C. Blythe Andrews, Fowler White's Cody Fowler, activist and author Kate Jackson, Holland & Knight's Peter O. Knight, Cuban independence leader Paulina Pedroso and insurance executive and philanthropist G.D. Rogers.

"The foundation of the city," said Steven Anderson, vice president of the nonprofit Friends of the Riverwalk. "Leaders, most of them without ever being elected. They inspired others and gave them hope. They stood their ground on just, maybe unpopular, causes."

To qualify, each had to have lived here, left a significant, positive legacy and been dead for at least 15 years.

A committee of local historians, authors and scholars made the selections.

The Friends already has raised nearly $17,000 to cast each monument, plus additional money to light and maintain them.

It plans to unveil the busts in December.

Last year, the first six honorees were named and over time the nonprofit aims to honor at least 30 to 35 people who made contributions and connections that endure, even generations later.

On Tuesday, James Ransom was taking some family photos next to a sketch of Rogers, his grandfather, when a young man approached to say hello.

"Hey," Ransom said to Peter A. Knight, the great-grandson of Peter O. Knight. "How are you doing? Good to see you. Congratulations."

"Oh, yeah. Same to you," Knight said. "Good company."

"Thank you," Ransom said. "Very good company."

Riverwalk honorees

C. Blythe Andrews

(1901-1977)

Andrews merged the Florida Sentinel and the Tampa Bulletin, creating a powerful political voice; and led the Grand Assembly of the Lily White Security Benefit Association, which grew to include 20,000 members, and established its own hospital, rest haven and ambulance service. He was the first black member named to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board and was active on local and state race relations boards.

Cody Fowler

(1892-1978)

Fowler defended African-American clients and took on unpopular causes. He was elected the president of the American Bar Association and served as chairman of the city and state Bi-Racial Commissions. Working with A. Leon Lowry and others, he helped engineer the peaceful integration of Tampa's lunch counters in 1960.

Kate Victoria Jackson

(1857-1940)

Jackson led the all-female Tampa Civic Association, which successfully lobbied for the creation of the city's recreation department, first library and first sewage system. She helped establish the Academy of the Holy Names, started and led the nation's second Girl Scout troop and fought to preserve the Everglades. Mayor D.B. McKay had said of her: "She would not be denied."

Peter O. Knight

(1865-1946)

A founding partner of Holland & Knight and president of the Tampa Electric Co., Knight served on the City Council, was one of the organizers of the Exchange National Bank, the Tampa Gas Co. and the streetcar and streetlight system. He was instrumental in acquiring land for an airport now named for him.

Paulina Pedroso

(1845-1925)

Pedroso was born in Cuba and came to the city as a cigar maker. She was black, her husband was white, and together they worked to end segregation in Tampa. Jose Marti made his headquarters in her boarding house, and she led other black Cubans to raise money for rebels fighting the Spanish.

G.D. Rogers

(1885-1951)

Rogers helped create the Central Life Insurance Co., which sold insurance to African-Americans, opened a hotel and dining room that became important meeting places on Central Avenue, worked to register black voters and gave the city the land that became the Rogers Park Golf Course.

Source: Friends of the Riverwalk. Images are from the city of Tampa. For more information, visit tampariverwalkhistorictrail.com.

Six more Tampa pioneers to be honored on Riverwalk 04/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:46pm]
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