Moses White (1915-1984)
Prepared by the Historical Monument Trail Selection Committee, Friends of the Riverwalk. For
further information, contact Fred Hearns, FHearns@netzero.net.
By the 1950s, Tampan Moses White was known as the “Mayor of Central
Avenue” because of his prowess as a businessman, community leader, and
philanthropist. He was born March 26, 1915 in Alapaha, Georgia to Thomas and Mary
White. Moses began his education in his hometown, served in the U. S. Navy, and
attended Tampa’s Don Thompson High School.
In 1939 he married Lucille Williams of Winter Park and together they had four
sons and three daughters. He moved to Tampa in 1943 and eventually opened several
businesses: the Palm Dinette (which he co-owned with brother Chester), Deluxe Cosey
Corner, Club Rayals, the Flamingo Rooming House, and Thonotosassa’s Midway Dance
White created a credit card system that allowed men stationed at MacDill Air
Force Base to eat and drink between pay days. He became a successful entertainment
and sports promoter, bringing to Tampa such stars as Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Etta
James, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, B. B. King, and Bobby (Blue) Bland. Black baseball
legends Jackie Robinson, Minny Minoso, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Frank
Robinson ate at his restaurants.
White also promoted the Florida A&M University-University of Tampa football
game in Tampa in 1969 – the state’s first contest between a historically black college
and a predominantly white university. He served on Tampa’s Bi-Racial Committee and
helped restore peace in June 1967 during Tampa’s racial unrest. Moses received
Tampa’s Human Rights Award in 1976. He counseled politicians, fed those who had no
money, and encouraged all who sought his counsel. Moses White died March 20, 1984.