Exploring the African American Heritage Trail

Celebrating Community
and a Vibrant Neighborhood

. . .

Having recently visited The Deuces neighborhood in south St. Petersburg, I had no clue how much history it held for the Black Community, and for America as a whole. Not one bit.

Heck, even before coming to the United States for my Bachelor’s degree, I have been so in love with Nat King Cole and his phenomenal music! Who would have thought that the Manhattan Casino Hall in St. Pete was a place that he and other extraordinary Black musicians visited so often?

That’s on my to-do list starting today – I must go and touch the history that’s hidden within this neighborhood, starting at the Woodson African American Museum of Florida.

Located down 22nd Street and 9th Avenue South lie 19 landmarks including schools, cemeteries, businesses, clubs, churches, and recreational spots. The starting date of the African American Heritage Trail is 1913 and its stories run into the end of the 20th century.

A whopping century of stories and places that were not officially recognized until recent years.

This rich saga commemorated by the City of St. Petersburg can clarify some historic tidbits, such as WWII in this community and the Jim Crow Laws that enforced racial segregation.

President of the African American Heritage Association, Miss Gwendolyn Reese, gave a summary of the significance of this trail in 2021 and a video tour in 2022.

Additionally, Vice President Jon Wilson of the Heritage Association wrote about this neighborhood in collaboration with Miss Reese for VisitFlorida.com, to further the conversation.

You can read his detailed story on their website – African-American History in St. Petersburg’s Deuces Neighborhood Article by Jon Wilson.

Not only that, but one of our writers, Ralph Wimbish, wrote more on this trail relating to his parents, Dr. Ralph and Bette Wimbish who fought against segregation during the Jim Crow Era – specifically against the Ku Klux Klan.

You can explore the Trail yourself, beginning at the Woodson Museum and using the beautifully-produced video guide that shares so many St. Pete voices.

The Trail celebrates the vibrant and vital history of African American life in St. Petersburg. It honors all who fought for the greater good against racism, for their own right to live as our brothers in sisters in humanity, and those who ultimately sacrificed their own lives in that struggle.

“They will never be forgotten. Their legacy will come, and their fighting spirits will forever be remembered and cherished. No matter how long it takes, justice will be served. But we must also remember that it takes a community with a big heart to pursue this goal together.”

If you’d like a guided walking tour or a tour by trolley of the African American Heritage Trail (perfect with fall’s cooler weather!), you can call 727-537-0449 or email aahaspfl@gmail.com to experience St. Pete’s vivid history.

Let us all remember to keep on the path of Truth and of Love, so that those who gave their lives did not do so in vain, and so we can learn from everyone’s stories.

We should feel compelled to consider understanding where we are, and who came before us in this land. We don’t realize how much courage and love it took for us as their offspring to get here.

Despite the pain that the Black Community endured here in St. Petersburg, they have created a beautiful future – for everyone. . .

The Art of Love will always be a prominent practice here.


Video Tour on YouTube


stpete.org/residents/parks recreation/african american_heritage_trail

The Black Lives Matter mural at Woodson Museum reimagined in celebration of Juneteenth 2023 with a new message created by Daniel BarojasMiss Crit, Esh, Cyrus FireRaheem FitzgeraldJohn GascotJames E. HartzellVera HerreraPlum Howlet, Jade Jackson, Reid JenkinsJujmo, James Kitchens, Cam Parker, Reda3sb, the Vitale Bros., Javon Walters, David Watson, Wayward Walls and Catherine Weaver.

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