University of South Florida


New web portal documents and catalogues the Black experience in Tampa Bay

The USF Institute on Black Life (IBL) has created a new web portal to better document Tampa Bay’s historic and contemporary African American communities.

Old photo outside Tampa Urban League building

The African American Neighborhood Project portal offers a multitude of resources accessible to the community, including oral histories, heritage sites, archival photographs and research addressing anti-Black racism.

“There has never been a centralized database where people can find out about the rich history and contemporary culture of African American communities in Tampa Bay,” said Fenda Akiwumi, director of the IBL. “We are excited to launch this portal with the type of information that can help students with projects, while linking together those engaged in research and community work in these neighborhoods.”

The portal was unveiled at the IBL annual conference, which was held on the USF St. Petersburg campus for the first time. The conference brought together academics, community leaders, students and residents to highlight community projects and facilitate ongoing research on the history and culture of the Black experience.

Conference room with poster promoting the project

The new web portal grew out of the Institute’s ongoing African American Neighborhoods Project. The project was the theme of this year’s conference and explores diverse perspectives and current conditions of Tampa Bay’s African American communities.
Initiated in 2012, the project chronicles the lives of people who live in historically Black communities. It focuses on residents’ historical relationships to these neighborhoods and how people feel about the future of life in Black communities. Data collected from the decade-long project will now be easily accessible through the portal to local residents and to an interdisciplinary body of scholars interested in these issues locally and nationally.

“I think the portal will be extremely well received as a primary educational resource on the Black neighborhoods of Tampa Bay, highlighting not just the history but the legacy and impact that history has on today,” said Cheryl Rodriguez, associate professor of Africana studies and anthropology and former director of the IBL.

The Institute on Black Life was established in 1986 with the goal of being a resource center on the history and culture of the Black experience in Africa and the African Diaspora. 

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