TAMPA, Fla. — Fixing racist policy of past…with corrective policy of the present.
From Black cemeteries that were developed over and erased, to highways that split and isolated African-American communities, Tampa City Council members sounded off at a meeting Thursday morning after a presentation about how to preserve Black history in Tampa.
"You talk to people from ‘back in the day’ and nobody says that they were racist, but they were," councilman Guido Maniscalco said. "They pushed out certain communities, they demolished certain communities."
Business and political consultant Natasha Goodley led the presentation at that Community Redevelopment Agency meeting, with a focus on how to uplift East Tampa.
"We need to do more," Maniscalco said.
And the people of East Tampa are ready.
"Don't talk about it be about it," said Rene Brown-Panko, who owns the Ladies of the Sea restaurant in East Tampa. "No more talking, action."
Brown-Panko says the area is a lifeline to the city that deserves proper recognition, historic preservation and government support.
"We suffer a lot, and we get the short end of the stick and it's been like that for a while," she said. "You get the support down at the Riverwalk, you get it in Channelside, you get it in Ybor, what's wrong with us?"
At the meeting, councilmembers agreed to put efforts toward uplifting East Tampa, starting with correcting misinformation about the area online, and promoting the community in the same manner that the city does for other neighborhoods.
"Intentional work to change the messaging and the narrative, it has to be done, and we can do it," said Nicole Travis, the city’s administrator of Development and Economic Opportunity.
Some of the ideas presented in the meeting included offering free Black history walking tours in the city, investing dollars into beautifying East Tampa and developing the neighborhood in a way that elevates, but doesn’t gentrify, the community.