First Ladies past, present and future. All photos by Nicole White.

“First Ladies in African American History” luncheon celebrates accomplished women and young scholars

On May 1, the Dr. G. Carter Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg hosted its annual First Ladies in African American History luncheon at the St. Pete/Clearwater Marriott.

First Ladies Kimberly Jackson (l) and LaTasha Barnes (r) with Carter Woodson Museum Executive Director Terri Lipsey Scott (c).

The event, which honors Black women who are the first in their fields, this year recognized Michèle Alexandre, dean of the Stetson University College of Law; LaTasha Barnes, CFO of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg; St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Deborah Figgs-Sanders; Kimberly Jackson, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions; FL State Rep. Michele Rayner; and Lakewood High School Principal Erin Savage. The Winnie Foster Lifetime Achievement Award, presented annually to a non-Black ally, was given to Melissa Seixas, president of Duke Energy Florida.

Dr. Tonjua Williams, president of St. Petersburg College and a former First Lady.
Actor Erica Sutherlin performed a powerful spoken-word piece.

Dr. Tonjua Williams, president of St. Petersburg College, and Dr. Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the museum, presided over the ceremonies, and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin (like Williams a former First Lady) read a proclamation from the mayor’s office.

Also on the program: a joyous presentation of scholarships to the Woodson Warrior scholars.

Jane Bunker and 16 of the 30 Woodson Warrior scholars.

Artist Jane Bunker has raised over $200,000 in funds for the scholarships since 2019 through sales of her paintings and outreach to donors, helping talented African American students in Pinellas County pay for college.

Woodson Warrior Lauryn Lattimore presented a thank-you bouquet to Bunker.
Woodson Warrior Jordan Bolds is also an accomplished sax player, providing entertainment during the luncheon.