They made their mark on Tampa’s history, and now they forever will be remembered on the Riverwalk.
Officials on Tuesday afternoon revealed names of the next six influential Tampa figures to be honored with monuments along the 2.5-mile urban trail. The “Class of 2013” includes C. Blythe Andrews, Cody Fowler, Kate Victoria Jackson, Peter O. Knight, Paulina Pedroso and G.D. Devoe.
“These six honorees, just like the firsts, are truly special,” said Historical Monument Trail Committee Chairman Steve Anderson. “They’ve been the foundation of our city; they’ve been our leaders.”
The Friends of the Riverwalk, a nonprofit group working with the city on the downtown Riverwalk project, commissioned bronze busts of each of the honorees, which will be completed and strategically placed along the Riverwalk in December.
The group plans to announce six additional honorees every year, Anderson said. The first six honorees, including familiar names such as Henry B. Plant and Vicente Martinez-Ybor, were announced last year. To be considered for the memorial trail, potential honorees must have died at least 15 years ago.
About 70 people, including city officials and descendants of the honorees, gathered outside the Tampa Bay History Center for Tuesday’s presentation.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn helped Anderson unveil renderings of busts of the new honorees and told the audience diversity is what makes the city of Tampa such a “great paella” of history and cultures.
“The opportunity to pay homage to these six people, and the six before and the six after, reminds us every day of how we got here,” Buckhorn said.
Six Tampa mayors have left their fingerprints on the Riverwalk, which was conceived 40 years ago. Last week the city council gave final approval for construction of the last stretch of the structure beneath the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge. Upon completion the Riverwalk will curl 2.5 miles around the downtown waterfront, from the Channel District to Tampa Heights.
“It’s going to be a focal point,” Anderson said. “The Historical Monument Trail is just one of many features that are going to make it just that.”
Rogers moved to Central Florida in 1905, following the railroad as he walked all the way from Georgia. He worked as a tailor and dry cleaner in Bradenton, and later opened Rogers Funeral Home with his wife. In 1922, he helped create Tampa’s Central Industrial Life Company, which sold policies to blacks. He opened Rogers Hotel and Rogers Dining Room on Central Avenue — important meeting places in the black community. He invested in a beach resort for blacks, founded the Negro Business League and registered black voters. He donated the land for the Rogers Park Golf Course.
A founding partner of the national Holland and Knight law firm, Knight moved to Tampa in 1889, when there were fewer than 1,000 residents. He served as a member of the Tampa City Council and as Hillsborough County solicitor. He helped create Exchange National Bank, Tampa Gas Co., Tampa Electric Co., and city’s electric streetcar and lighting systems. He was the local representative for the company credited with the development of Davis Islands and was instrumental in acquiring land for a municipal airport, which today bears his name.
Andrews was a newspaperman, businessman, philanthropist and civic leader. He merged his father’s newspaper, The Florida Sentinel, with The Tampa Bulletin in 1959 to create The Florida Sentinel-Bulletin. In 1966 he became the first black appointed to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board. He also served on the Florida State Advisory Committee on Civil Rights, the Negro Advisory Committee, the Mayor’s Bi-Racial Committee and the Committee on Human Relations.
Fowler moved to Tampa in 1924 to practice law. A founding partner of the Fowler and White law firm, he made his career defending blacks and championing just causes. He chaired both Florida’s and Tampa’s Bi-Racial Commissions and is credited with helping guide the integration of Tampa’s lunch counters in 1960.
Jackson was born to Irish immigrant parents. In 1910, she founded the all-women Tampa Civic Association, which helped create the city’s recreation department, establish the city’s first library and build the first water sewage system. She helped found the Academy of the Holy Names and started the second Girl Scouts of America troop.
Born in Cuba, Pedroso moved to Tampa in the 1880s to work as a cigar-maker. She worked to end racial segregation in Tampa and was a prominent leader in Cuba’s revolution against Spain in 1895. Her boarding house served as Jose Marti’s headquarters. In 1910, she and her husband returned to Cuba. In 1993, she was inducted in the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.