July 24, 2022
Tampa Bay Times
A benefactor with a huge collection of Black history artifacts has promised to make more than 8,000 pieces available for viewing over the next several years at St. Petersburg’s Woodson African American Museum of Florida.
Clinton Byrd, a financial investor who lives in Tallahassee, started a sideline as a historian in 2012 after he obtained a collection amassed by Nathaniel “The Magnificent” Montague, a Black radio pioneer. Montague, now 94, dreamed of opening an African American history museum of his own in Los Angeles. He spent nearly 50 years collecting artifacts such as letters from Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, recordings of opera singer Marian Anderson and books by the museum’s namesake, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, considered the father of Black history.
The Father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, was born in1875 near New Canton, VA. He was the son of former slaves. In 1907, he obtained his BA degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he received his PhD from Harvard University.
In 1915, he and friends established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. A year later, the Journal of Negro History, began quarterly publication. In 1926, Woodson proposed and launched the annual February observance of “Negro History Week,” which became “Black History Month” in 1976. It is said that he chose February for the observance because February 12th was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 14th was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass.
Dr. Woodson was the founder of Associated Publishers, the founder and editor of the Negro History Bulletin, and the author of more than 30 books. His best known publication is The Mis-Education of the Negro, originally published in 1933 and still pertinent today.
He died in 1950, but Dr. Woodson’s scholarly legacy goes on.
Museum space is available for individuals and organizations to schedule special events and meetings in the gallery, as well as outdoor events in our Legacy Garden. Opportunities for collaboration on joint projects and exhibits are encouraged and welcome.
The mission of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum is two-fold:
1) To preserve, present, and interpret African American history and to engage a broad and diverse audience through these activities.
2) To promote an understanding among various groups that comprise the St. Petersburg community to enhance our ability as a society to respect, value diversity, and foster equal rights and social justice.
The history of African Americans in the St. Petersburg community and throughout the African Diaspora will be the central focus of programming at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. The Museum serves to preserve this rich history for present and future generations of St. Petersburg residents and visitors to St. Petersburg.
African Americans have played a crucial role in the growth and development of St. Petersburg since the late 1800s. The first African Americans came to this area seeking work. Many of the early migrants worked on the Orange Belt Railroad and other emerging enterprises. As St. Petersburg grew into a major tourist destination, more employment opportunities opened for these early residents. Settling near the downtown area to be near jobs and the railroad, African Americans established neighborhoods and the community grew, establishing independent institutions. In spite of segregation and discrimination, the area thrived culturally.