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Vision 2020 series to include race talks

The series adds an African-American forum on May 30. Tonight it's connectivity and regionalism.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- The topic of race relations is now on the agenda of the city's long-range-planning exercise.

Not originally included in the series of planning forums taking place over several weeks, the topic was added at the suggestion of several residents, said Bob Jeffrey, a city planner on the Vision 2020 steering committee.

Dr. Evelyn Newman Phillips, who has studied St. Petersburg's African-American history in depth, will be the speaker at the May 30 session, which is being called the African-American Perspective on Development.

The forum will start at 7:15 p.m. at the activities center on the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg campus, Second Street S and Sixth Avenue.

A forum titled Transportation, Connectivity and Regionalism continues the series tonight at the activities center. It also will start at 7:15 p.m.

A weekend workshop to develop the city's growth vision for the next 20 years starts the evening of June 1 and continues through the afternoon of June 3.

Despite playing a major role in the city's development starting in the late 19th century, African-Americans for years were required, with few exceptions, to live in segregated neighborhoods with strictly enforced boundaries.

"Nobody really recognizes the contributions that were made," Jeffrey said. "We're such a community of moving in and moving out, no one really recalls the history past 40 years ago or longer."

Phillips wrote her doctoral dissertation about the development of St. Petersburg's African-American community. She came to St. Petersburg as a social worker in 1983 and later studied for her doctorate at the University of South Florida.

Her dissertation is available on the Olive B. McLin community history Web site, www.nelson.usf.edu/mclin.

Jeffrey said the forum May 30 could launch ongoing discussions about race relations in the city.

"I fully see spinning out of this a series of committees where people have issues. Maybe we put together a race relations committee or an economics committee," Jeffrey said.

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