Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More talks to come over future of Woodson African American museum

ST. PETERSBURG — After a contentious discussion that inspired boos and shouts from a 50-person audience, the St. Petersburg Housing Authority postponed any decision on the future of a local African-American museum.

Instead, the housing authority wants to meet with officials of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum to discuss a potential role for St. Petersburg College in its operation.

A battle over the museum's space in the Jordan Park public housing community began about a month ago, when the housing authority invited the museum board to what was described in an email as a "workshop" with St. Petersburg College. Terri Lipsey Scott, chairwoman of the museum's board, imagined a financially beneficial partnership with the college.

But board members found themselves listening to a proposal that SPC take over the lease of the building and the management of the museum, absent any collaboration with the current Woodson board.

That meeting, she said, was the first time she or anyone on her board had been notified they might lose their organization.

At a meeting Tuesday of the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees, Scott and a dozen other museum supporters voiced their disdain for what some have called a "hostile takeover."

Their concern baffled SPC president Bill Law. College officials said the housing authority had approached SPC about drafting a proposal for the space.

On Thursday, Law emailed Scott and said the college would not pursue its proposal until the Woodson board and the housing authority solved whatever got them "crosswired."

That, however, is still unclear.

"Where does this all come from?" Scott asked at Thursday's housing authority meeting. "Where's the love? Where's the support? Where's the commitment?"

Afterward, Housing Authority CEO Darrell Irions said that about a year ago, the authority decided to opt out of its partnership with the Woodson and enter into a strict landlord-tenant relationship. Since 2006, housing commissioners had sat on Woodson's board, but after the museum failed to provide receipts and audit information, Irions said, the authority decided it "didn't want to be a part of that."

So the authority drew up new paperwork stating the Woodson's lease agreement would expire at the end of this month. It was later extended to July 15, though Scott said she just assumed it would be renewed, which had never before been a formal process.

Irions said during the meeting that the Woodson was not a fully functioning museum, as it was created to be, but more of a social gathering space. Museum supporters in the crowd objected, referencing the 23 exhibits, 11 youth events, four movie premieres, six book signings and 26 community engagements they've sponsored since 2008.

After the board postponed the lease discussion, Scott said she was "grateful for the wisdom" of board members and looked forward to meeting to discuss options. The housing authority meets again in June, where the vote could come up again.

Katie Mettler can be reached at or (727) 893-8913.

More talks to come over future of Woodson African American museum 05/22/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle