Journalism

It has been said that journalism is the first rough draft of history. If that is true, Florida African American newspapers have been writing early drafts of Florida history since Josiah T. Wells published the state’s first African American-owned newspaper in 1873.

For almost 150 years, Florida African American newspapers have played a crucial role in reporting, and ultimately preserving, the story of communities across the state. Sadly, many of these old papers have not been saved and archived. However, the USF Libraries Special Collections in Tampa and St. Petersburg are honored to help preserve and share the history of two of the state’s most important African American newspapers, the Florida Sentinel Bulletin and The Weekly Challenger.

The African American Experience in Florida (AAE) journalism collection not only includes microfilm and digital versions of these newspapers, but also the papers of Norman E. Jones, Sr., a conservative African American newspaper columnist and publicist from the 1950s through the early 1970s who opposed integration and preached economic self-sufficiency and self-determination during the Civil Rights era. Each of these individual collections is a valuable journalism-related primary source for researchers hoping to learn about Florida and Tampa Bay African American history.

Journalism Collections

Cover of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper

Florida Sentinel Bulletin

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Published since 1945, the Florida Sentinel Bulletin provides a unique perspective of the Black community’s history and highlights the social, political, cultural, and religious activities of African Americans in Tampa.

Dates: 1971-2018

Special Collections holds incomplete runs from 1971-2008; holdings from 1946-1970 are available on microfilm. Digital copies of the newspaper from 2007- 2010 can be found here. For detailed holdings information, click here.

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Gibbs High coach and team

Neighborhood News photographic collection

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Of the 64 images in this collection, many were published in the African American news section of the St. Petersburg Times during the 1940s and 1950s.

Dates: ca. 1948-1951
Extent: 1 box

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

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Papers of Norman E. Jones, Sr.

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The papers of Norman E. Jones, Sr. include selected recordings, correspondence, documents, newspaper clippings, and photographs documenting his controversial opinions on racial integration, civil rights, the Black Power Movement, and Black Studies.

Dates: ca. 1960s-1970s
Extent: 7 boxes

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

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Cover of The Weekly Challenger ne

The Weekly Challenger Newspaper

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The Weekly Challenger has documented the history of St. Petersburg’s African American community since the newspaper was established by Cleveland Johnson, Jr. in September 1967.

Dates: 1973-2020

Click here to access the digital archive »

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The Weekly Challenger photograph collection

1024 685 tcollinson

The Weekly Challenger has documented the history of St. Petersburg’s African American community since the newspaper was established by Cleveland Johnson, Jr. in September 1967.

Click here to access the digital archive »

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