October 5, 2022

St. Petersburg’s First Black Mayor Turns Down Invitation To Circus-Theme Ball, Event Canceled

Mayor Ken Welch turned the primary Black mayor of St. Petersburg, Fl. and is predicted to take workplace on Jan. 6.

In honor of his election, the native Junior League needed to host a gala ball, a convention it has organized for earlier mayors since 2006.

Nevertheless, the Related Press stories that the brand new mayor turned down the invitation. There are issues that its circus theme was racially insensitive and demeaning.

A few of the photos used to advertise the “Under the Big Top” theme included a black pelican with a high hat. Native Black group leaders rejected the theme, including that the as soon as racially segregated metropolis didn’t enable Black individuals to attend circuses.

“He has nothing to do with a circus, clowns, animals,” mentioned the Rev. J.C. Pritchett, who’s the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. “He’s a gentleman. A kind gentleman and a public servant.”

The pastor additionally had issues with the proposed location of the gala as a result of earlier occasions had been held on the upscale Coliseum or Mahaffey Theater.

However this time round, organizers deliberate to make use of a venue known as the Manufacturing unit, which was positioned in a warehouse arts district, that included outside house.

“For us to have the mayor’s ball in a warehouse and a parking lot is unfitting,” Prichett defined.

Junior League spokeswoman Lisa Brock stood behind the circus-theme idea, saying that the earlier occasion was themed across the Wizard of Oz. The idea was “There’s No Place Like St. Petersburg.”

Welch mentioned the state of affairs helped create a chance.

“The diversity of St. Petersburg is our most incredible strength and our community events must be inclusive and representative of all who live here,” mentioned Welch in regards to the metropolis, which is predominantly white.

Nonetheless, Brock mentioned the Junior League was disillusioned that Welch declined their invitation, and now the group added a variety, fairness, and inclusion board place.