The ball started rolling for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in the 1990s, when the City of St. Petersburg and its Housing Authority were given a Hope VI grant to re-develop the then-60-year-old Jordan Park housing community.
The 7,000-square-foot community center was retro-fitted into a museum honoring the historical contributions of African-Americans.
(The son of slaves, Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson was the second Black American to graduate from Harvard. He understood the importance of recording African American history and founded “Negro History Week” in 1926.)
Terri Lipsey Scott, the museum’s executive director, previous served as City Council Office Administrator. She is a tireless advocate for equity in the community, and believes St. Pete is headed in a positive direction with the imminent re-imagining of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.
In a way, it’s personal for Terri Lipsey Scott. “Growing up in Savannah, in segregated schools for quite some time, the opportunity just really didn’t present itself for stories to have been told about those who contributed to our nation’s history,” she explains.
“Or for us to even dream about people we could become, or opportunities that created themselves. Because we didn’t see ourselves in those spaces. It’s important that everyone see ourselves in every walk of life. Being able to accomplish and achieve anything that our heart desires.
“When we say ‘We Are St. Pete’ we’re talking about each and every one of us. We are certainly reflective of a broad community – and each of us should see ourselves.”
Fundraising is in full swing for the 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum planned for 5.5 city-donated acres on 22nd Street South. It will be re-named the Woodson African American Museum of Florida.
Designed by Huff Gooden architects, the new facility will include three major galleries, a “justice center” for guest speakers and community discourse, an events auditorium and a re-imagined version of the Legacy Garden that’s at the current site.
“We in St. Petersburg, and in the State of Florida, deserve something far greater” than a retro-fitted community center constructed in 1939, Lipsey Scott says.
The fundraising campaign is on for the $27 million needed to construct what will be the first “purpose-built” African-American history in Florida. Several million dollars have already been donated.
“It’s going to happen,” Lipsey Scott says. “But it’s only together will we rise, and get to this place sooner than later.”
Click the arrow to hear the interview with Terri Lipsey Scott: