As we debate who and what from history deserves a monument, St. Petersburg got it right this week with plans to honor the 12 Black police officers who sued the city for discrimination in the 1960s and won. The Courageous 12, as they are known, merit a statue, and that’s what the city plans to erect at the site of the old police department headquarters. The monument will celebrate the men and the cause they championed.
The announcement came months after the city put up a plaque with the names and photos of the 12 Black officers in the lobby of the new police headquarters. At the time, the children of Freddie Crawford, one of the Courageous 12, wrote a letter to the editor in the Tampa Bay Times noting the group deserved more than a plaque. “Heroes are memorialized in bronze and stone for historic contributions to our society,” wrote Terrell and Kim Crawford. “...The Courageous 12 check those boxes. Yet they are honored with a simple plaque.”
The commitment to make the monument is the first step in a process. What the monument will look like is yet to be determined, but the public will have some input, according to the city. The monument is only one facet of a development project for the site of the old police headquarters that will include workforce housing, retail and a parking garage. The St. Petersburg City Council is scheduled to vote on the agreement with EDGE Central Development Partners at their meeting next Thursday. The site is getting a serious makeover, but at least this monument will offer a testament to the history that took place there.
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