One of the first thoughts that came to her mind when she arrived in St. Petersburg from her native Savannah, Ga., was to break the segregation barrier that was so prevalent in the city.
“I found it very odd for there to have been such a division in the early 80s coming from Savannah, which is a black college town,” said Lipsey Scott. “To witness the predominance of separation throughout the city was very disheartening.”
¨We have a lot of reasons to be angry and I won’t dismiss that thought,” said Lipsey Scott. “When you consider all that we have had to endure, we have every right to be angry. For those who don’t get it and don’t understand, they’re missing a huge point.”
She recalls a time when black women came to this continent against their will. Raped, battered and separated from their families, they were the original victims of the “Me Too” Movement and the scars of that history continue to haunt the race even today.
She highlights that African-American women are still faced with an unjust system, a scheme in which black females are forced to be heads of households because of the disproportionate imprisonment of black men.
The inequity of pay that black women receive in comparison to their white counterparts; and the disdain that so many have for the strength and intelligence of black women who stand their ground makes it all but impossible not to be angry.
Lipsey Scott takes pride in acknowledging and celebrating the brilliance and fortitude of black women, particularly when celebrating “First Ladies in African American History,” an event she has fostered since 2014.
The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum honored the 2018 inductees this year on April 22 for the extraordinary accomplishments of some of this community’s leading ladies while honoring Black Women’s History Month amidst a sold-out crowd of supporters.
“I’m now retired, and even in my volunteerism I find myself angry because of the injustices that I have to face while operating the city’s only African-American museum,” she averred.
A city that touts being a community of arts and culture has certainly left the Woodson out of the big picture. Despite the City of St. Petersburg’s recent purchase of the Woodson Museum, it pales in comparison with other local museums they have subsidized.
Although St. Pete is not as divided as it was in the 80s, there is still an obvious line of demarcation that separates the city’s black residents from the white residents. Even though the Woodson Museum is a featured destination, she’s reminded each Second Saturday ArtWalk of the color line.
¨I had to learn early on that if I didn’t leave this building, go out and jump on the trolley and beg people to get off, no one would. There’s a reputation associated with this area. As if to suggest that this is not a good place or that whatever we have here might not be worthy of them stepping off the trolley.”
The Woodson is more than a museum as evidenced by community engagement. From creating opportunities for programming, mentors, piano classes, to tea parties and advocacy for the disenfranchised, the Woodson recognizes the importance of what it offers, and take pride in not only presenting, but preserving African-American history and its culture.
Regardless of the issues that she confronts, Lipsey Scott envisions that the Woodson will continue to thrive. She, along with members of the Woodson board, has worked tirelessly to interpret, present and preserve black art, history and culture.
From washing windows, scrubbing toilets, mopping floors to erecting exhibits, curating, planning or grant writing, Lipsey Scott and the Woodson board strives for excellence.
Not only is it their passion, but it’s also a full-time commitment to honor and help preserve untold stories relative to the contributions of African Americans in St. Pete and beyond.
¨I see us moving towards doing things that would make a difference in the lives of others,” she stated, “and I remain hopeful that our passion will illuminate an area of our community that has been left in the dark too long.”
One thing that can be said about the Lipsey Scott and the rest of the museum’s board is that giving up is not in their vocabulary.
¨We’re passionate about our commitment,” she finished, wiping the tears that rolled down her face.