2022 Annual Conference

The African American Neighborhoods


Established in 1986, the Institute on Black Life (IBL) strives to educate the public about historical, cultural, political, and economic issues relevant to people of African descent in the Diaspora and on the African continent. IBL has established collaborative research partnerships with various USF departments and external entities to achieve its goals of scholarly exchange, community-engaged research, and student success. Recently, IBL co-sponsored a Student Lounge with the Office of Student Success, the USF Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) mentorship program, and partnered on a USF-community research study on structural racism commissioned by the City of St Petersburg.  
The IBL Annual Conference is one key way in which we highlight the collaborative work of our faculty, students and community partners. Each year, the conference focuses on a different theme around key research areas such as education and student success, economic and environmental impacts, Blackness and anti-Black racism education and research, heritage preservation, and community-based research initiatives. This year’s conference, titled “The African American Neighborhoods Project of Tampa Bay,” will launch a web portal built to compile and disseminate information on African American communities and highlight community-based projects in St. Petersburg.


Fenda Akiwuma

Welcome to the 2022 annual conference of the Institute on Black Life (IBL) at the University of South Florida. Founded in 1986, the Institute continues its core mission to serve as a resource center on the history and culture of the Black experience in Africa and the African Diaspora. Faculty across the University of South Florida collaborate with the Institute to conduct interdisciplinary, community-engaged research and outreach programs in our local Tampa Bay African American communities, the wider African Diaspora, and on the African continent. Our students assist in the important work of collecting and analyzing data. The title of our conference this year is The African American Neighborhoods Project of Tampa Bay. The variety of departments, schools, and community organizations our presenters represent shows the importance of taking a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the historical and contemporary life of Black communities.  
Our presenters are experts in African American Heritage, Journalism and Digital Communication, Multicultural and Student Affairs, Anthropology, Family Studies, Geosciences, Food Security, and the Digital and Performing Arts. The support of community research partners in the public and private sectors is central to our success as researchers and scholars. Partners supporting our initiatives to preserve the culture and history of our Black communities include The USF Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching, the African American Heritage Association of St. Pete, Inc., the Black Cemetery Network, the USF Black Faculty and Staff Association, Deuces Live, the Florida Food Council, and the Sierra Club Suncoast Group. We thank you for joining us and look forward to meaningful and fruitful deliberations.  


Fenda A. Akiwumi, Ph.D. 
Director, Institute on Black Life 

The African American Neighborhoods Project of Tampa Bay 

In 2012, with support from USF’s Office of Community Engagement, the Institute on Black Life initiated a project that explores diverse perspectives on Tampa Bay’s African American neighborhoods. Our Stories are Here was one component of a larger study, the African American Neighborhoods Project, in which data on demographics, history, mobility, and economic conditions is being collected and made accessible to local residents and to an interdisciplinary body of scholars interested in these issues locally, statewide, and regionally. This study asks questions about the lives of people who lie in historically Black neighborhoods, including residents’ historical relationships to these neighborhoods and how people feel about the future of life in Black communities. Most importantly, the local residents play a critical role in setting the agenda for the project, which is ongoing, and in communicating how the project can benefit their communities. The 2022 conference will highlight and feature the work of community experts and USF researches focusing on communities in the City of St. Petersburg.  

General Overview

bull statue in front of Student Center

St. Pete campus University Student Center

Date: February 1, 2022 
Time:  9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
Location: USF St. Pete campus   
University Student Center  
140 7th Avenue South 
St.Petersburg, FL 33701 



Morning Session  

9:00 - 9.30 a.m. Coffee
9:30 a.m. Words of Inspiration, Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, Director, Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) 
9:35 a.m.

Opening Remarks - Prof. Fenda A. Akiwumi. Director, Institute on Black Life, USF

 9:35 a.m.

Opening Remarks - Prof. Fenda A. Akiwumi. Director, Institute on Black Life, USF

 9:40 a.m. Opening Remarks - Provost Ralph Wilcox, USF
 9:45 a.m. Welcome Remarks - Chancellor Tadlock, USF
 9:50 a.m. Welcome Remarks - CAS Dean Magali Michael, USF 
 10:00 a.m. Overview Presentation - Dr Cheryl Rodriguez, Professor of Africana Studies, SIGS
10:35 a.m. Navigating the IBL African American Neighborhoods Project Web Portal, Rebecca Schoffman, ABD, Graduate Assistant, Institute on Black Life, USF 
10:55 a.m.

Introduction of Honored Guests – Ms. Geveryl Robinson, MFA USF

11:00 a.m.

Digitization of the St. Petersburg African American Heritage Trail
Honored Guests: Ms. Gwendolyn Reese, President
Honored Guests: Mr. Jon Wilson, Vice President 

 11:30 a.m.

The Neighborhood News Bureau Student Presentations by
- Dr. Natacha Yazbeck, Director, Dept of Journalism and Digital Communication, USF
- Dr. Casey Frechette, Chair, Dept of Journalism and Digital Communication, USF

Lunch Break 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Afternoon Session: Conversations on USF – St. Petersburg Community Research Partnerships 

1:00 – 1:50 p.m.

African American Burial Ground Project and Tropicana Field - Remembering Erased Black Cemeteries through Art and Research

Moderator: Prof. Antoinette Jackson, Director USF Heritage Research Lab, Department of Anthropology and Founder, Black Cemetery Network (BCN)

Mr. Walter “Wally B” Jennings, Spoken Word Artist for the African American Burial Ground Project and Assistant Director Diversity Initiatives, USF
Ms. Wanda Stuart, MS, Resident, Gas Plant District of St. Petersburg
Mr. Corey Givens, Community Activist 

1:55 – 2:40 p.m.

Family and Community Well-being

Moderator: Dr. LaDonna Butler, Ed.D., LMHC, Associate Program Director for the Family Study Center and Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychology, USF 

Serina Lewis, MSW, Family Study Center, USF 
Ms. Carole Alexander, CEO at the Next STEPP Center 
Dr. Bilan Joseph, Director of Thrive by Five at Community Foundation Tampa Bay

2:45 – 3:30

Let's Keep The Deuces Live/Breathing New Life into The Deuces 

Moderator: Ms Geveryl Robinson MFA, USF St Petersburg Campus

Ms. Veatrice Ferrell, The Deuces Live
Mr. Leon Jackson, Retired Officer, St. Petersburg Police Department
Mr. LaShante Keys, Urban Collective 
Mr. Jason Bryant, Urban Collective 
Mr. Nick Davis, Digital Artist, Nick Davis LLC, St Petersburg, FL

 3:35 – 4:20 p.m.

Relationship Building for Community-based Equitable Climate Resilience

Moderator: Dr. Rebecca Johns, School of Geosciences, USF St Petersburg Campus 

Dr. Barnali Dixon, Director, iCAR, USF
Erica Hall, Florida Food Policy Council and Sierra Club Suncoast Group
Dr. Kenneth Bryant, Minority Health Coalition of Pinellas County

 4:25 – 4:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks, Prof. Fanni Green, Chair, School of Theater and Dance, USF 

 4:35 – 6:30 p.m.  Reception


Office of Multicultural Affairs, USF St. Petersburg Campus

Contemporary Art Museum, USF Tampa campus


Department of Journalism and Digital Communication, USF St. Petersburg campus

USF College of Arts & Sciences, Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses

School of Art and Art History, USF St. Petersburg campus

HELIOS Education Foundation 

WUSF Public Media


USFSP Campus Map


Throughout the pandemic, USF’s primary concern has always been the health and safety of our students, staff, and stakeholders. USF is complying with CDC guidelines for meetings and events. Although these precautions will be in place, those at high medical risk and the unvaccinated should consider forgoing attendance. Find out more about USF’s Return to Campus.
For reasonable requests and questions about the event, please email CAS RSVP.