Black History Month in St. Petersburg began on an unseasonably warm Tuesday morning, with two ceremonies on the steps and sidewalks outside City Hall.
Flanked by donors, sponsors, supporters and members of the City Council, Terri Lipsey Scott, director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, announced a capital campaign, “Invest in Black History.”
It will require $27 million, said Scott, to build the proposed state-of-the-art facility on five acres of city-donated land in the Deuces area. And although significant progress has been made, including a $1 million donation from the City of St. Petersburg, and another $1 million from the Milkey Family Foundation, there is much to be done.
“Some of the country’s most southern states have created significant edifices to preserve, present and showcase the history, art and culture of African Americans,” she said. “Florida remains a state absent the investment of a purpose-built African American Museum.”
As an historical and educational asset, she explained, the “purpose-built” museum – many times larger and more elaborate than its current iteration, an old home in the Jordan Park neighborhood – “remains a critical necessity.”
Scott introduced more than a dozen donors and supporters by name. “By the end of this month,” she announced, “we hope to engage even more companies, organizations, sports teams, philanthropists and individuals, to triple this list of supporters.
“And by the end of 2022, we would be ecstatic to celebrate having reached our $27 million goal. May I plead with you to invest in Black history. Too many untold stories. Too many opportunities that we’ve missed to celebrate.
“Too many years have passed for the neglect of a history that has made this nation great.”
Immediately following the announcement, Scott joined members of Council, members of the Pinellas County Commission and State Representative Charlie Crist at the City Hall flagpole, and Mayor Ken Welch raised the city’s official Black History Month flag – bearing the image of Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
Welch praised the efforts of the director and her associates, and reiterated the necessity for a contemporary Woodson museum.