It has been almost a year since a team of us here at the USF Libraries launched the African American Experience in Florida (AAE) portal. One of the best parts of working with the AAE portal is helping researchers create something new out of something old, even when the “something old” is old news.
As an example, last year I used the AAE portal to share information about two Florida African American newspapers, The Weekly Challenger and the Florida Sentinel Bulletin, while assisting a journalist and her editor research a story for the Florida Humanities FORUM magazine.
Journalist Kenya Woodard and editor Jacki Levine’s article, “The power of being seen,” reminds us of the important role Florida’s African American newspapers have played in the state’s history.
The USF Libraries’ Digital Commons repository also provided background information for their story. A chronology about the history of Florida newspapers provided a detailed list (page 110) of historic African American newspapers along with resource links about pioneering newspaper editors/owners such the Florida Sentinel’s Matthew M. Lewey and Gus C. Henderson from The Winter Park Advocate.
During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, Josiah T. Walls served as the state’s only African American congressman from 1870-1876. In September 1873 he bought a former white-owned Gainesville newspaper and renamed it The New Era. Walls’s new publication, the state’s first Black-owned newspaper, marked the opening chapter in the history of Florida’s African American newspapers.
And now, almost 150 years later, we are honored to use the AAE portal to share the latest chapters in that history.
Credit: David Shedden, Nelson Poynter Memorial Libraries, University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus