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Keeping promise, Suncoast Tiger Bay Club to continue the conversation on race in St. Pete

Megan Holmes



Thursday's Tiger Bay Panel on Race & The Legacy of Racism in the 'Burg included: Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil; Gwendolyn Reese; Tim Dutton; Winnie Foster

In June, 160 people gathered at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for Suncoast Tiger Bay Club’s first-ever conversation on race, titled, Race and The Legacy of Racism in the ‘Burg.

In a sort of public reckoning, Suncoast Tiger Bay Club’s then-President Elise Minkoff acknowledged that in Tiger Bay’s more than 40 year history of community conversations and dialogue, the conversation was long overdue.

“We want to make a commitment that this will not be a single conversation,” she said, to audience applause, “but rather that we model what we hope will take place throughout the rest of our city, our state, and our country. That courageous conversations can happen and will happen.”

Tiger Bay will keep that promise Feb. 6 in a special conversation held in honor of Black History Month. The event, titled, Future Thinking – The Continuing Conversation on Race and St. Pete, will feature a new crop of St. Pete leaders to discuss the issues facing St. Petersburg and how the community can move forward, together.

Kimberly Jackson, Director of the Institute of Public Policy at St. Pete College will moderate a conversation with Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg Kanika Tomalin, CEO of 2020 Plan and One Community Gypsy Gallardo, and architect Sarah-Jane Vatelot, author of Where Have All The Mangoes Gone?

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The June panel was focused predominantly on the legacy of St. Petersburg’s checkered racial history, including the city’s famous green benches, the demolition of the Gas Plant District, which was razed to build what is now Tropicana Field and its many parking lots, the “Courageous 12,” a group of black police officers who successfully sued the city for the right to patrol white neighborhoods, and the 1996 killing of Tyron Lewis, an unarmed black teenager shot by a white St. Petersburg police officer, and the riots that ensued.

The panel was moderated by Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and featured Gwendolyn Reese, president of the African American Heritage Association of St. Petersburg, Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil, long-time community activist Winnie Foster and Tim Dutton, executive director of Unite Pinellas.

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“Even here in beautiful and progressive Pinellas, like most communities in our nation and particularly in the South, we are not immune from the legacy and enduring impacts of discrimination and racism,” said Welch in June.

“And so an honest discussion on race is really the only path to a mutual understanding of our past, and that in turn will empower us to successfully lay the foundation for equity, shared progress and prosperity for our future.”

Event details:

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Future Thinking – The Continuing Conversation on Race and St. Pete

St. Pete Yacht Club Grand Ballroom (11 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701)

February 6, 11:30am – 1:15pm

Register here.

Check out the full video of Suncoast Tiger Bay’s June luncheon here:

Suncoast Tiger Bay: Righting wrongs means shining a light [Video]


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  1. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    January 25, 2020at12:27 am

    Changing of the guard. I am happy that the next conference will include younger individuals. Rose

  2. Avatar

    Greg Davidson

    January 27, 2020at5:25 pm

    Sounds hopeful. Maybe future discussions on race will be held at a center in So St Pete/CRA area to help really increase awareness?

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