Her strength and perseverance were instrumental in community's growth and development

Compassionate, caring, devoted, and a public servant. Those were just a few words used to describe Mrs. Betty Reed recently at the unveiling of a bronze bust of her likeness.

Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation honored Reed's service to the Lucy Dell community, as well as the County and state, by placing the bust at the Lucy Dell Community Pond. Before her death in 2022, Reed championed and advocated for the cleanup and restoration of the community pond, which now features a walking trail and boardwalks.

"My mom was a great person in our community, and she did a lot for the community and service for the state," said Michael Reed, Betty Reed's son.

Betty Reed's daughter, Dr. Cametra Edwards, agreed. "She was always thinking about community first," Edwards said. "Community, education, children, and women. My mom really aspired to get the word out about maternal health and making sure that woman have the proper prenatal care that they needed, especially black women."

Reed's legacy extends far beyond Hillsborough County. From 2006 until 2014, she served as a representative in the Florida State House. During her time in the State Legislature, Rep. Reed supported mentorship for young, black males and championed the cause nearest to her heart, maternal health. Rep. Reed passed the first black infant mortality legislation in the United States and pursued policy changes to ensure female prisoners can give birth unshackled.

"She is an amazing woman," said Edwards, who is one of five children. "When you realize where she came from, the backwoods of Pelham, Georgia - she came to Tampa and took advantage of every opportunity."

Following her mother's tragic death during childbirth, Mrs. Reed, at age 13, helped raise her younger siblings until she met her husband, James Reed. The two relocated to Tampa, Florida, where she embodied servanthood. Mrs. Reed became president of the Lucy Dell Civic Association and began her political career by serving on the Hillsborough County Parent Teacher Association (PTA) where she lobbied for educational improvements, like air conditioning for all schools.

After being a stay-at-home mother, running a family sandwich shop in Ybor City, and rejoining the corporate workforce at Remington College, Mrs. Reed successfully ran for a seat in the Florida House.

"My mom was a phenomenal woman and that's the way I would like for her to be remembered," said her son, Lorenzo Reed. "A phenomenal woman."

Posted: 2/21/2024, 3:11:20 PM