African-American life forum held in Tampa

04/09/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

The University of South Florida’s Institute on Black Life held its Spring Symposium today at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church in Tampa. The theme was “Memory, Culture, and Community: African-American Life in Tampa.”

After Sala Senoka Zake, a student at Williams Middle Magnet School, sang the black national anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing, members of the community presented histories of religious institutions, historically black communities and landmarks.

Herman Monroe is the historian of St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Tampa. Monroe showed photographs of church leaders and buildings while describing the history of St. James Episcopal. He told WMNF that even during the segregation era the church had white priests.

Progress Village is a planned community of African-Americans in between Tampa and Brandon. Many of the residents of the more than 800 homes in Progress Village had been displaced from the Scrubs neighborhood near downtown Tampa, in part because of the construction of Interstate 275. Planning began in 1957 and the area was founded in 1960. Hilrie Kemp Jr. is president of the Progress Village Community Association.

Willie Robinson is the grandson of the original owners of the Jackson House near downtown Tampa. Originally a two-bedroom house when it was purchased in 1899, it was converted into a 24-bedroom boarding house for African Americans arriving in Tampa because of its proximity to the railroad station, Robinson said.

Institute on Black Life Director Cheryl Rodriguez said it’s important to study the histories of communities that otherwise may get overlooked.

Learn more:

Institute on Black Life

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