As the City of Tampa continues to grow and produce and over abundant supply of multilingual talent it is important we celebrate our diversity. As history notes, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th 1776, marking America’s independence from Britain. The lifelong question still surfaces from time to time, “Are we, African Americans truly FREE” in this country?
There have been many attempts to keep division across this nation even locally but the majority always come together and show us how we are stronger and better together. You see it’s easy to join a conversation to complain about everything that’s wrong with the City of Tampa, it can even be convenient for some to reminisce about how bad things were. However, it takes hard work to build bridges with one another and recognize that our differences shouldn’t be the reason we don’t move forward. When we all come together, it is a beautiful thing to see just how alike we all are, regardless of our heritage.
Mayor Castor hosted the cities first ever “Boom by the Bay” 4th of July celebration. This celebration was monumental for our city as all across the riverside it was made up of a vast variety of heritages fellowshipping together. This city came together to send a message that we are a melting pot, but that is what makes us unique.
For most Americans, July 4th is a day off from work and time to enjoy great food and family, concluding the evening by enjoying fireworks. Since relocating to the Tampa Bay area as a child, I have had the opportunity of meeting a highly diverse community with a rich supply of culture and how we celebrate the July 4th around this city speaks high volumes of how much unity is really here in Tampa, FL. A few years ago when I lived in a cul-de-sac, every family brought something out to the neighborhood cookout. The fellas had the grills in the front participating in a friendly cook off, kids were enjoying about 5 backyards of play, and the women were all gathered in my kitchen making sides for dinner. My neighbors at the time consisted of a Puerto Rican family. A few doors down from us was a Chinese family of ten generations, across the street was a young Italian American family, next door was a Middle Eastern family, next to them an African American military family and beside them lived a recent college graduate and her partner. With the neighborhood being fairly new, we all decided to celebrate as a neighborhood and I’ve seen this same act of togetherness happen all across the bay. Color, race, ethnicity, gender, nor sexual preference was the topic of discussion.
This year the City of Tampa residents experienced “Boom by the Bay” a new tradition that can be added to their memory book of photos. A citywide celebration creating an environment for everyone to come out and not only enjoy the fireworks, but each other. Sure, there is a past and we should never forget it, but what makes the 4th of July spectacular is coming together showing how we can work and build together. The more we exhibit behaviors of unity, acts of kindness, and forgiveness, the better off we leave our children in a world that continues to diversely grow. We can’t change acts of violence or hate but we can determine how we govern our actions after a tragedy. It’s up to each and every one of us that make up our communities to play a role in creating an inclusive environment, celebrating our wonderful divine City of Tampa, on July 4th.
By Ebone Cruz Clifton