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Media Advisory / Press Release

Renamed Road Aims to Honor Pinellas County’s First Black Female Attorney and St Petersburg’s First Black City Council Member

St. Petersburg, Fla. (October 24, 2017) – The city of St. Petersburg, along with State Senator Darryl Rouson and David Gwynn, District Seven Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, will host an unveiling of the C. Bette Wimbish Interstate 375 highway designation this month. The public is invited to join Mayor Rick Kriseman for the festivities on Sunday, October 29, beginning at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the St. Petersburg Coliseum, 545 Fourth Avenue North, near the sign. A brief reception sponsored by Dolman Law Group will immediately follow the event.

Said Mayor Rick Kriseman: “How do you honor someone who blazed trails and opened new paths for women and African Americans in Pinellas County? With a road, of course! The city is honored to recognize Mrs. Wimbish, also the first female and first African American elected to St. Petersburg City Council, who carved her own path to success. What a fitting tribute to rename I-375, a six-lane federal roadway that serves as a grand entrance ramp, bringing people from near and far directly into downtown St. Petersburg.”

State Senator from St. Petersburg Darryl E. Rouson, Esq., stated, "Honoring the trailblazing legacy of C. Bette Wimbish is important to telling the rich "herstory" of blacks in St. Petersburg. My hope is that it inspires others as she inspired me."

Background. C. Bette Wimbish, was a lawyer, politician, and activist in Pinellas during the 20th century. Born in 1924, she was a lifelong Floridian. She graduated from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg and received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Florida’s only historically black university. Though her degree was in education, Wimbish’s exposure to racial harassment and discrimination inspired her to get involved in politics and activism.

An Important Career. In 1960, she ran for the Pinellas County Board of Public Instruction. Her platform centered on improving and desegregating Pinellas Schools. Though she didn't win, she received a substantial amount of votes. She was also the first black woman to run for a countywide political office in Pinellas. She and her husband also participated in sit-ins and other protests, and were known for opening up their home to black artists, musicians, and athletes who were turned away from hotels or housing due to segregation laws.

Groundbreaking Contributions. She later received her law degree from FAMU’s law school, and returned to work at a St. Petersburg family law firm. She was the first black female attorney in Pinellas, and only the third black female attorney in the entire state. Later, she was also elected to St. Petersburg City Council, where she eventually became vice-mayor.
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