Renamed Road Aims To Honor Pinellas County’s First Black Female Attorney
How do you honor someone who blazed trails and opened new paths for women and African Americans in Pinellas County? With a road, of course! A new proposal in the Florida Senate aims to rename a portion of St. Petersburg’s Interstate 375 after C. Bette Wimbish, a lawyer, politician, and activist in Pinellas during the 20th century.
C. Bette Wimbish, who was born in 1924, was a lifelong Floridian. She graduated from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg and received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Florida’s only historically black university. Though her degree was in education, Wimbish’s exposure to racial harassment and discrimination inspired her to get involved in politics and activism.
An Important Career
In 1960, she ran for the Pinellas County Board of Public Instruction. Her platform centered on improving and desegregating Pinellas Schools. Though she didn’t win, she received a substantial amount of votes. She was also the first black woman to run for a countywide political office in Pinellas. She and her husband also participated in sit-ins and other protests, and were known for opening up their home to black artists, musicians, and athletes who were turned away from hotels or housing due to segregation laws.
She later received her law degree from FAMU’s law school, and returned to work at a St. Petersburg family law firm. She was the first black female attorney in Pinellas, and only the third black female attorney in the entire state. Later, she was also elected to city council. She eventually became vice-mayor. During her time as an attorney and politician, she fought for important issues, including women’s rights, mandatory seatbelt laws, and environmental protection.
C. Bette Wimbish was an inspiring trailblazer in many ways. Hopefully, the proposal to rename 1-375 is just the beginning of honoring her legacy.
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