Elder Jordan Sr. was born into slavery in the mid 1800s. His legacy of building a community for Blacks in segregation-era St. Petersburg still bears his name: the housing development Jordan Park. He also built Jordan Dance Hall, now the Manhattan Casino, as well as helped establish a school, a bus line and a beach for the Black community, when racist laws and customs dictated separate worlds.
A pioneer and leader of early St. Petersburg, Elder Jordan now welcomes all to the historic Deuces neighborhood.
“Elder Jordan Sr. was a man who didn’t just build a dance hall or fight to get a school constructed – he built opportunity,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Kriseman.
On Wednesday, October 28, Kriseman, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, Elder Jordan Sr.’s grandson Rev. Basha Jordan, and artist John Hair unveiled the bronze statue in honor of Elder Jordan Sr. next to the Historic Manhattan Casino on 22nd Street and 7th Avenue South.
“Today’s tribute is long overdue, but as Dr. King has said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ And so today, right will be done,” said Tomalin. “Done in recognition of his efforts to ensure African American children had a quality place to learn. Done in recognition of donation of land to the city for housing. In recognition of housing he constructed, the establishment of a bus line and a beach for African Americans when segregation said they had no place where the tourists flocked to.”
According to The Weekly Challenger, four women, in concert with the St. Petersburg Public Arts Commission and the City of St. Petersburg, brought the statue to the community: Veatrice Farrell, executive director of The Deuces Live; Gwendolyn Reese, president of the African American Heritage Association; Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum; and Carla Bristol, owner of Gallerie 909.
“What is going to happen after today?” Elder Jordan Sr.’s grandson, Rev. Jordan, asked the crowd. “After this historic moment today, what will we do to continue the legacy, to continue to give hope, to continue to give faith to African Americans not only on the southside of St. Petersburg, but all through St. Petersburg?”