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Plans for Tampa’s Black History Museum announced as Juneteenth celebrations kick off

The new home of Tampa's Black History Museum
Tampa's Black History Museum will be located at 1213 N. Central Ave. across from Perry Harvey Sr. Park in Tampa, Fla.

A monumental and historic new initiative celebrating Black history in the area is coming to Tampa. Organizers today announced plans for Tampa’s Black History Museum, an incredible partnership between Tampa Bay History Center and the Tampa Housing Authority.

Located at 1213 N Central Ave in downtown’s Central Park Neighborhood, plans for the new museum were announced on Monday, June 17 as part of Juneteenth celebrations throughout the city. The long-awaited museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage and contributions of Tampa’s African American community.

Through exhibits, educational programs, and community events, the Museum aims to honor the past and inspire future generations. Building upon the incredible collections of the Smithsonian Affiliate Tampa Bay History Center and the community-changing work done by the Tampa Housing Authority, the museum will be a must-visit destination housed inside a historic red brick building – the 103-year-old St. James Church, which is steeped in local history.

To keep up with future events, galleries and happenings, we highly recommend following Tampa’s Black History Museum on Facebook and on Instagram. You can learn more and see the full calendar of events at tampabayhistorycenter.org.

Historic partnership creates iconic cultural venue for Tampa

An old brick church
The century-old structure is one of the few remaining buildings from an area formerly known as The Scrub. “The Scrub, once Tampa’s oldest and largest African American neighborhood, traces its history to just after the Civil War, when newly-freed enslaved people built homes in a scrub palmetto thicket just to the northeast of the Town of Tampa,” reads the inscription on a historic marker. “The heart of The Scrub was the Central Avenue Business District.”

“This partnership represents months of thoughtful planning, born of a desire to work together to share Tampa’s Black history,” said C.J. Roberts, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay History Center. “We’re proud to collaborate with the Tampa Housing Authority in such a significant and impactful way, offering Encore and the City of Tampa a new cultural destination.”

Several marquee events have already been announced for Tampa’s Black History Museum. In addition to the kickoff press conference featuring community leaders on June 17, more events this summer at the new Museum include: Fabric of Freedom: Juneteenth Fashion Show (June 19); Black History Book Club: “In Peace and Freedom” (June 24), and Black History Book Club: “Open Season” (August 26).

“Our partnership with the Tampa Bay History Center shows our joint commitment to preserving diversity history, which is essential for fostering strong communities,” said Jerome D. Ryans, President & CEO of the Tampa Housing Authority. “The reason why we must honor and share Tampa’s Black heritage is to celebrate the past and inspire future generations to appreciate and uphold the vibrant cultural diversity that makes Tampa so unique.”

Tampa Bay History Center is a bastion of local history

The Tampa Bay History Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 801 Water Street in Tampa, Fla.

Monday’s opening festivities come as part of the City’s Juneteenth Week celebrations recognizing the lasting cultural impact of African Americans in Tampa. Speakers at Monday’s event will include Mayor Jane Castor, Representative Dianne Hart, County Commissioner Gwen Myers, Tampa Councilwoman Gwen Henderson, and leaders from the NAACP and Urban League. Their participation highlights the importance of this initiative in elevating Black voices and safeguarding their cultural heritage.

This joint venture between the Tampa Bay History Center and the Tampa Housing Authority is a monumental undertaking, creating a place to preserve the city’s history and celebrate the culture that has helped it flourish.

Located on Tampa’s Water Street, the Tampa Bay History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space focusing on 12,000 years of Florida’s history and culture. A Smithsonian Affiliate museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the History Center includes the Touchton Map Library and Florida Center for Cartographic Education, and the Witt Research Center, and is home to the Columbia Cafe.

Learn more at tampabayhistorycenter.org.

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