Local black directors celebrate Tampa’s diverse community

By Jori Ayers

In honor of Black History Month, The Straz Center will showcase films in an event called Arts Legacy REMIX: Black Artists Film Series.

This event is a part of a bigger program called the Arts Legacy Remix Project. The event celebrates culture and talent by screening three influential films. On Feb. 3, The Straz Center showcased Rosewood, followed by Stormy Weather on Feb. 10. Lastly, on Feb. 17, there will be a tribute to James E. Tokley Sr. – the first poet laureate of Tampa and Hillsborough County. The tribute includes excerpts from the film Jump at the Sun.

“It’s kind of part of a brainchild to do this to select and celebrate artist and their contribution to the growth and development to the African American experience and the greater American experience,” said Fred Johnson, Director of the Arts Legacy Series.

Johnson expressed that Arts Legacy REMIX: Black Artists Film Series is an opportunity for the Tampa Bay community to come together and experience African American culture.

“At this event there will be a showing of the film and a panel of people who talk about the film,” said Johnson. “There is an opportunity to have some dialogue about the artists in the film their relationship to the film and also their relationship to life.”

During this event, special guests will be attending and featured on the panel as well to give the audience more insight on the film they are watching. In honor of Rosewood, the special guests were families who were descendants of people who lived in Rosewood. For Stormy Weather, there were local distinguished artists and theatre educators who attended. James E. Tokley Sr. himself will be in attendance for the tribute to him.

“I think it’s amazing having this series,” said Paris Isaac, senior human performance major. “I think there should be more events because blacks are constantly being portrayed poorly in many films. Broadcasting positive black films would have a positive impact on everyone watching.”

Johnson stated that every month is black history month for him. Johnson is not only celebrating Black History Month with Tampa Bay, but he is also educating the community on your not so average black history school topics. Johnson is showing the importance of Black History Month and also the recognition of Black History Month and that it not just be something that’s checked off every year.

“I think there should be an event like this every month,” said Kyree Sellman sophomore advertising and public relations major. “Because we should be recognizing those of color all year around because people of color are doing great things all year around not just for one month out of the year.”

The series’ sole purpose is to offer a welcoming environment for the Tampa community to celebrate Black History Month, according to Johnson.

“I think the overarching thing is that our Arts Legacy Series it’s really designed to celebrate the richness of the diversity of Tampa Bay so that one of the threads in that tapestry is the black experience,” said Johnson.

Come out and celebrate Black History Month with The Straz Center on their final film showing Feb. 17 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on the Straz Riverwalk with a tribute to James E. Tokley Sr. that includes excerpts from Jump at the Sun.


Jori Ayers can be reached at jori.ayers@spartans.ut.edu

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