“It’s been a long time coming” has been the musical tune sung over the past year, as our community strived to overcome one of the most challenging years with the global pandemic and much more. In an effort to bring the St. Petersburg community together and offer a glimmer of hope, the St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. continued its tradition of hosting the 2021 MLK Leadership Awards virtually.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams delivered a powerful keynote address to invigorate and mobilize virtual attendees to spring into action. Just like Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech 57 years ago, she opened her address with fiery passion and vivid words to sound an alarm for today’s community.
“Now is the time to make good on the promises of democracy, eliminate racial injustices and disparities, and stand up for the unity and brotherhood that we can all enjoy,” Williams said.
She recounted the relentless pursuits of our brave forefathers and their bold, tenacious and “refuse to lose” attitude toward change. Williams encouraged attendees to get involved in reforming systems to secure democracy.
Williams sympathized with the hardships many have experienced during 2020 when the pandemic, civil unrest and an economic downturn felt “larger than life.”
However, she believed, temporary outcries and short-term roundtable discussions will not instill lasting progress for generational impact. For long-term change to take root, she said, “We must break down barriers in our educational systems and hold organizations accountable for how people are perceived, recognized, regarded and treated.”
She further emphasized the importance of action behind equity and diversity statements. That would include expanding access to education, financial support, housing and employment for disenfranchised communities.
“We must live together in harmony and create a strong brotherhood that is corporative and collaborative. This is the sweet spot,” she said.
President Williams’ message was heard loud and clear. “We must come together. We need each other.”