St. Petersburg has a unique past, which Josette Green believes is best captured in the streets and buildings of its historic neighborhoods.
Green, a local historian, believes in promoting race equity through history. To fulfill this, she will be guiding bicycle tours through St. Pete’s renowned Black neighborhoods, while explaining their history.
A retired business consultant who first moved to the area in the 1990s, Green has traveled to over 60 countries throughout her life. She says these travels instilled in her a deep appreciation for multiculturalism.
After dedicating her retirement to learning more about St. Pete’s stories, Green decided she could play a role in telling them. “It’s my contribution to the community,” she said.
Pepper Town, Methodist Town and the Deuces are a few neighborhoods participants will visit on the bicycle tours, which are scheduled to begin in the fall.
Many stories the historian plans to reference on these tours come from local history books and from the St. Petersburg Museum of History, as well as information she’s learned through conversation and independent research.
Green says her tours will begin and end at Chief’s Creole Cafe, an iconic restaurant serving Louisiana-style cooking in the Deuces. Its owners, Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy, are longtime residents of South St. Pete. Participants will be invited to sit down for a meal after the ride.
Mr. Brayboy, known colloquially as Mr. B, says he’s joined a few of Green’s test groups for dinner, and appreciates the opportunity to share aspects of his city’s past that can’t be found in history books.
“I’m very impressed with Josette taking this on in her own way,” he said.
Green lived in multiple condos throughout her time in St. Petersburg, but ended up building her own home in Campbell Park to be closer to the communities she cherishes.
Her journey from business professional to historian began around the same time, when she started learning about South St. Pete in works by author and journalist Jon Wilson. Green soon befriended Wilson, who was recently awarded the Key to the City by Mayor Rick Kriseman for his dedication to documenting its history.
She also says her interest, specifically in Black history, increased after signing up as a docent for the Florida Holocaust Museum’s Civil Rights exhibit. During her time volunteering, Green learned that many residents were unaware of significant historical events that took place in their own communities.
“I noticed a very common comment made was, ‘I’ve lived here my whole life and I had no idea,’” Green said. “And what they meant by that was they had no idea of the Black history or what the Black culture really was about here … and it replicated my own personal journey to anti-racism.
“So I became more committed than ever to race equity.”
The first official bicycle tour will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 9 a.m., with more tours on Oct. 9, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11. For those interested in participating, send an RSVP to Josette Green at JosetteG@hotmail.com.
Tours will allow up to nine people, but groups of at least five can also request their own dates.