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Pedal your way through St. Petersburg history

Local historian Josette Green has created an open-air Black history lesson that takes place on a bike tour.
Pedal your way through Black history on a St. Petersburg Black History Bike Tour.
Pedal your way through Black history on a St. Petersburg Black History Bike Tour. [ Katee Morales ]
Published Aug. 18
Updated Aug. 18

Local historian Josette Green has a passion for racial equality and loves bicycle riding. She recently combined the two and came up with the St. Petersburg Black History Bike Tour.

“I’m on a mission for race equity, one bike tour at a time,” she said.

Working as a docent for the Florida Holocaust Museum’s civil rights exhibit, “Beaches, Benches and Boycotts,” Green searched for a new way to share her knowledge of local Black history after COVID-19 forced the museum to temporarily close in 2020.

“I love to bike. I have a deep passion for racial equity. So, I decided to combine the two,” she said.

Riders of all skill levels can participate in the tour with multiple informative rest stops.
Riders of all skill levels can participate in the tour with multiple informative rest stops. [ Katee Morales ]

The result is a 5-mile, two-hour, narrated bicycle tour of St. Petersburg’s Black historic sites and neighborhoods. The tour visits Pepper Town, the first Black community, formed by Black railroad laborers. It makes a stop at the site of the 1914 mob lynching of John Evans, and it follows the boundaries of the Negro Segregation Project set up by the St. Petersburg City Council in 1936.

Related: Learning to cope with Black trauma amid George Floyd and the pandemic

“It’s easy to keep up with the ride and I try to keep it informative,” she said.

At each stop, Green has the cyclists pause as she shares the history of what happened at that spot in the city’s history. She feels like it can be eye-opening.

“It’s not my lived experience,” said Green, who is white. “However, Black history was created and formed by white people through our control and power of Black people. Racism is a social construct white people have put in place.”

Josette Green shares historic information at a stop along the 5-mile ride.
Josette Green shares historic information at a stop along the 5-mile ride. [ Katee Morales ]

Green calls it her personal “antiracist journey” and invites people to come along.

Related: St. Petersburg's African-American History Trail launches digital tours

Free rides are scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 11, Oct. 9, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11. Green is also open to doing free, private, small-group tours on other dates. All rides depart from and return to Chief’s Creole Cafe, 901 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. To register, send an email to JosetteG@hotmail.com and put “Bike Tour” in the subject line.

“If we all understand what life was like for our Black and brown residents,” Green said, “we can raise racial equity.”