USF Celebrates Black History

Moving day into Jordan Park in 1939.

BY JON WILSON, Columnist

ST. PETERSBURG — Vintage photos featuring African American interests in St. Petersburg, events in civil rights history, and prominently displayed easels about the city’s pioneer black doctors are being exhibited at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at the St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida.

In addition, a classic bust of pioneer African American entrepreneur Elder Jordan, Sr. is on display, also in connection with Black History Month.

“The Poynter Library at USFSP is honored to preserve this important chapter of St. Petersburg’s history. Although the images of our segregated past are difficult to view, we must remember these moments to ensure that we never return to a world where racial intolerance is treated as an acceptable behavior,” said James Schnur, special collections librarian.

On the first floor, easels include biographies of Drs. James Ponder, Orion Ayer, Fred Alsup and Ralph Wimbish. Along the floor’s northwest wall, an exhibit examines major events in the nation’s civil rights history and includes books from the library’s substantial collection of African American history. Near the first-floor elevator, glass-case displays examine the history of segregation in St. Petersburg, the construction of Jordan Park and the importance of Jordan Park as a place of new opportunities in St. Petersburg.

The displays are free to see and are available for public viewing during normal library hours, which can be found at this site.

The Jordan Park/Elder Jordan exhibits continue on the third floor. Next to the elevator is a bust of Elder Jordan commissioned by St. Petersburg African American historian Minson R. Rubin, Rudy Bradley, and the Jordan Park Projects Nostalgic Association, Inc.

Designed by Eckerd College visual arts professor Brian Ransom, the art piece will remain on display after the rest of the exhibit ends. A display case on the third floor also talks about the importance of preserving our city’s African American heritage. The third-floor displays will remain in place at least through March.

There are both free and metered parking spaces near campus, as well as one-hour visitor parking spots. For information, visit the university’s parking department.

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