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Help us tell the story of St. Petersburg

Times is co-sponsoring Black History Preservation Drive at Woodson museum on Saturday, Nov. 9.
Frank Peterson is surrounded by his family, Priscilla, 13; Francine, 11; Valian, 9 months; Pamela, 7, and Sharon, 10. This picture was taken in 1961. [TIBBO, BRUCE  |  St. Petersburg Times]
Frank Peterson is surrounded by his family, Priscilla, 13; Francine, 11; Valian, 9 months; Pamela, 7, and Sharon, 10. This picture was taken in 1961. [TIBBO, BRUCE | St. Petersburg Times]
Published Nov. 1, 2019

I have a favor to ask.

Next Saturday, Nov. 9, the Tampa Bay Times will be participating in a St. Petersburg Black History Preservation Drive at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum. We are partnering with the USF Neighborhood News Bureau, The Weekly Challenger, the African American Heritage Association and the Woodson on this project.

The goal is to collect oral histories, photos and other archival material from long-time residents.

Most news coverage for much of the 20th century underrepresented black residents and undervalued their contributions. That’s true of our stories as well. But we believe it’s important for the community -- and for our newsroom -- to understand the past as the city looks ahead to another wave of redevelopment.

“We are witnessing the narrative of our history being corrected to reflect more truth and inclusion,” says Boyzell Hosey, our deputy editor for photography and multimedia.

Hosey cites the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened three years ago in Washington, and this year’s efforts to revisit 1619, when African slaves were first brought to the British colony of Virginia.

“I think it’s imperative to focus our attention on a local level,” Hosey says.

John Pendygraft, an award-winning photojournalist at the Times, began revisiting St. Petersburg history before the idea of a preservation drive was born. Digging into our archives and reading mid 20th century accounts was shocking, he said, because so many stories went untold.

Then he felt a tremendous sense of urgency.

“There is all the living history we will miss if we don’t get those voices recorded soon,” he says. “It just feels like there isn’t time to waste.”

We need your help.

What you have in your attics, what has been passed down from one generation to the next, the stories of everyday life, all of that can provide glimpses into the past. And revisiting that history also can offer lessons for the future.

We will scan whatever pictures and documents you bring along and give them right back to you.

Registration isn’t required, but if you’d like to reserve a time, please contact: NNB@usf.edu or 727-612-7998.

Once we hear from you, we’ll figure out -- with our partners -- the next steps in terms of sharing those stories. But first, please come see us from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S.

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