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Celebrating Black History Month

MarineMax is celebrating Black History Month by sharing stories from our family of boaters and team members.

  • marinemax team members

In honor of Black History Month, MarineMax is highlighting the contributions of Black men and women to the boating industry, with a special focus on our employees. Join us as we acknowledge and celebrate the impact of these MarineMax team members and customers.

  • head shot of ismail on the water

Meet Ismail Dubose

As a talented and knowledgeable technician working within the boating industry today, we celebrate Ismail Dubose for his skill and expertise in boats of all types. He believes that Black history should be discussed more in general than just one month.

As a technician with MarineMax Clearwater, Ismail Dubose worked with MarineMax for nearly nine years and started his career as a boat detailer when he moved into the area. He enjoys the boating industry since it’s fun, and he meets many interesting people from all walks of life. His favorite boat is a Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless due to its performance regardless of what type of adventure you’re on.

When asked what Black History Month means to him, Ismail says, "There is so much about Black history that is untold, unwritten, or even rewritten. Black history shouldn't only be talked about or taught in one month. It is so important to not only talk about but to teach and recognize Black history more, not only the slavery but the inventions and other practices that happened back in the 1800s, before, and up until the present.”

Ismail also brought up a quote by philosopher George Santayana, which is, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," which Ismail feels is true, especially if no one pays attention to it. "Let's not forget about it, erase it, or change it. Let's talk about it and learn about it and from it," says Ismail

  • saidi wake surfing

Meet Saidi Johnson

We recognize Sales Consultant Saidi Johnson for his outstanding boating knowledge and customer support. He feels that Black History Month can create ties and help build the community and connections.

For nearly 24 years, Saidi Johnson has been part of the boating industry in a big way. As a sales consultant with MarineMax Sail & Ski Austin, Saidi offers professional boating expertise, starred in a few YouTube videos, and has a fun video bio for his store location. Before MarineMax, he was curious about the industry and became even more interested in boating while kneeboarding and wakeboarding. From that point, Saidi learned to drive boats and now loves to operate larger vessels above the 34-foot range. When Saidi’s not on the water, he enjoys traveling extensively with his wife, riding all types of bikes, snowboarding, and would like to spend more time with horses.

When asked about his thoughts on Black History Month, Saidi stated the following:
"Black people...We can. We can work hard and excel at anything we set out to be a part of and put effort into just like anyone else in the world, and it has very little to do with talent but also by adding tremendous effort. The opportunities are here for us because of the centuries of hardship for those that endured Black history. I am Black history because I have done things that my parents and family members have not done or were/are afraid to do or try. I have created an uncommon life for myself and ultimately blend with all cultures and communities. We are all history, and I like the common cause for us all to work hard and advance. Everyone in the world wants to advance in some way. Black history has proven that it is possible for the Black Community, also! Black people have invented items ranging from the golf tee to a multistage rocket approved to be used in aerospace. Many accomplishments to speak of but not often mentioned." Saidi also mentioned that Hugh Mulzac was the first African American captain to command an integrated crew on the Booker T. Washington.

Saidi explains further how Black History Month can create ties. “Honoring Black History Month in the workplace helps build community and connection as we all can connect through exposure. Every day is Black history. I am living proof! I work in an industry that Black people are not commonly sighted.”

Additionally, Saidi shared an observation he enjoys. “The fun fact is that there are so many different shades of Blackness in Black history, and that is one of my favorite things to observe!"

  • morgan stillwell with her family

Meet Morgan Stillwell

We celebrate Morgan Stillwell, our email marketing specialist, for her talents and love of boating. She specializes in curating communications, and her incredible knack for creative copy speaks to a mass audience to encourage enjoyment of their own adventures on the water. Morgan reflects upon this month to acknowledge the many accomplishments of Black people and the sacrifices of her ancestors.

Morgan has been working with MarineMax as an email marketing specialist for more than two years after a friend recommended the position, which was perfect due to her passion for boating and marketing. Morgan stated that she and her family began their boating journey with MarineMax nearly 17 years ago as first-time boaters on a Sea Ray SPX 190. She also recalls her first boating experience as a 9-year-old when her parents, Eric and Sharron Stillwell, took out their new boat initially. Not only was it exciting, but it was extra special since she saw dolphins up close for the first time!

As Morgan reflects on the experience, she sees how helpful the sales consultant was by taking the time and having a captain show her parents what to do and how to enjoy the boating lifestyle. “My mom also attended a Women on Water® class, which allowed her to be an excellent first-mate to dad,” said Morgan. Morgan also recalls the representative later building a friendship and spending time on the water with them—especially since they attended MarineMax Getaways!®, where they also met other boating families and made memories with new friends that they still keep in touch with today with connections were built simply from owning a boat.

Being in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, Morgan and her family have plenty of prime locations for boating fun. “Our go-to spot is dropping the boat in the water at Davis Island. It’s a pretty central location, allowing us to go downtown Tampa, St. Pete, Beer Can Island, and many other places in a good amount of time and easy route,” says Morgan. Her family currently owns a Sea Ray 240 Sundancer that she loves to captain. And although she liked to zip along the water when she was younger, she has since slowed down to enjoy taking in the views.

As for what Black History Month means to her, Morgan states the following, “Black history is everything to me—I am Black history! I don’t consider it as just the past, but the present and future as well. Black history means to stop and acknowledge the strides and accomplishments Black people have achieved—many of which go unnoticed. Black inventions like the traffic light, automated elevator doors, and major involvement in VoIP, home security systems, color computer monitors, and so much more make our lives easier.”

Morgan also speaks about her ancestors and history in general. “Black history is also a time to appreciate and celebrate the sacrifices my ancestors made. Whether someone is Black or not, it’s everyone’s history, and we all should want to know more about it. You can’t have American history without Black history, and just like all history, it’s important to know. I make it a point to learn about a new important Black person and what they’ve done to better society every day during Black History Month—both historical and modern figures, and I encourage others to do the same,” says Morgan.

  • man and woman smiling next to their boat name good tyme

Meet Eddie Wright

Eddie Wright knows the Tampa Bay area water well in more ways than one! As the owner of a luxury real estate company, he is an expert in knowing top-notch locations along the waterfront—and as a boater, he has phenomenal advice on where to go! We celebrate Eddie for his knowledge, enthusiasm for boating, and contributions to the local area by making new homeowners happy!

As an owner of a luxury real estate company in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area and MarineMax customer, Eddie Wright is no stranger to the water. With 99% of the homes he sells being waterfront properties and having docks, Eddie will sometimes take his current Sea Ray Sundancer 350 out to the property. “That's part of the excitement in selling waterfront and luxury properties in the Tampa Bay area,” says Eddie.

Although Eddie didn’t come from a boating family, he enjoyed many weekends renting boats while in the military. Upon retiring and moving to the Tampa Bay area, he almost bought an RV but soon changed his mind after seeing the water. After opting for a boat, Eddie came to MarineMax, where he has had a positive experience with each department he’s encountered.

“MarineMax has been tremendously amazing, and when I say that, it's three areas," says Eddie, and further explains the professionalism he has experienced at MarineMax in the service department, how the parts department helped him retrieve "specialty parts," and that he will be going to the sales department when he is ready to upgrade. In addition, he also took several MarineMax boating classes since he’s big on safety.

Since Eddie knows the area quite well, we got some insight about some of the best locations to look for waterfront property in the Tampa Bay area, where he indicated that there are several. “When I think of the top three places, I think of Harbor Island, that's downtown Tampa that puts you in the middle of downtown, right on the canal with access to Tampa Bay and the Gulf. Second place would be Davis Island. Again, very trendy,” says Eddie. The third location mentioned is Apollo Beach, which gives boaters much closer access to Anna Maria Island, the Gulf, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. In addition to the recommended waterfront living locations, Eddie shared some of his favorite areas he visits, which are Pine Key Tampa Bay (aka Beer Can Island), Egmont Key, Holmes Beach, Long Boat Key, and St. Petersburg.

Adding even more of a picturesque vision to the Tampa Bay area, Eddie recalls one of his favorite boating memories. “We get a lot of pretty sunsets, but my favorite of boating is, it was about three years ago when a cruise ship had just sailed out of Tampa. I guess they left late, but it was when the sun was setting, and it was the most beautiful sunset with a cruise ship in the background that I had ever seen,” says Eddie.

When asked how he feels about Black History Month, Eddie views it as a time of reflection. “When I look at Black History Month, for me, it's a time of reflection. It's a time to reflect on all the sacrifices my ancestors and so many Americans have made for me to enjoy the basic freedoms that so many other people were already enjoying. I mean, when we look back as young as 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prior to that being passed in 1964, there were so many places that Black people in America could not go, like restaurants, different public accommodations, and marinas and boating and yacht clubs was one of them. So, for me to own a very large boat, to be a member of different yacht clubs and marinas, it's just amazing to me,” says Eddie. He also reflects upon his ancestors and dreams. “Without a doubt, I know I'm the dream of so many of my ancestors, and I don't take that lightly. They dream of this. They dream to sit in front of the Marriott on a yacht," says Eddie and adds, "I'm the dream of so many other people.”

During Black History Month, Eddie mentioned there are celebrations in the Downtown Tampa area and in Citrus Park. He plans to attend events that are happening locally.

In Conclusion

We want to thank all those who shared their personal stories and views on Black History Month. We truly appreciate your thoughts and being a part of our family while creating fond memories on the water. And as philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer said, “In truth, history does not belong to us but rather we to it.”

No matter who you are, where you come from, and what type of boat you have or want, we are all United by Water®, and MarineMax is always happy to help you along the way and join our ever-growing family boaters!

Did You Know?

19th Century Mariners

The ocean does not only offer ways to travel but has provided many with steady work—and still does. In the 1800s, many Black Americans joined the maritime industry and worked as fishermen, sailors, and crabbers. As the 19th century came to an end, Black Americans were thriving within the industry and were also in positions involving leadership.

The Underground Railroad

Water has also played a role in escape routes. When the Underground Railroad was formed, the term 'escape' had a much deeper meaning for many during that era. In the early to mid-1800s, secret routes and safe houses were established to help enslaved African Americans escape to freedom. Certain ships also were a part of the network, where some slaves hid or impersonated crewmembers.

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Day

An event that took place along the water happened over 75 years ago in Miami, Florida. Local Black residents of the area fought for their rights to go to the beach by staging a “wade-in” at Virginia Key Beach Park, a whites-only beach, in 1945. Their attempt was a success, and Virginia Key Beach Park became the first beach location that Black families could enjoy in South Florida, which is now celebrated annually on August 1.

Black Boaters and Talent to Celebrate

Enjoying the water can be done in many ways, and these water-loving enthusiasts have each found unique attributes they excel at. From a professional female surfer training for the Olympics, a master captain with paint and sail excursions to an established fishing tournament pro becoming a rising star on YouTube, these extraordinary Black figures in our modern-day world are awe-inspiring. Read about them in “8 Black Boaters to Follow in Honor of Black History Month.”



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