The St. Pete Black History Bike Tour returns next month

After a successful season last year, historian Josette Green plans to bring her free Black history bike tour back September-May.

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click to enlarge The St. Pete Black History Bike Tour returns next month (2)
Photo via Josette Green
After conducting 27 tours in the community—described by participants as "eye-opening"—the free St. Petersburg Black History Bike Tour returns next month for a second season.

Led by local historian Josette Green, the tour takes its participants on an immersive and informative tour through St. Petersburg's rich Black history and relationship with systemic racism that persists today.

The tour starts at 9 a.m. and traverses locations of different historical significance, using various narratives and highlighting significant figures in the area at the time.

Scheduled tour dates for 2022 are Sept. 10 and 24, Oct. 8 and 22, Nov. 5 and 19 and Dec. 3 and 17. Dates for 2023 will be announced later this fall, as the tour season lasts from September-May.

Beginning at St. Pete's first Black community, Peppertown, Green describes the tour as "peddling back in time."

“Our history is kind of sobering when it comes to African Americans here," Green told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "It's very somber, so people are getting the history [by] standing on the land... and then what happened in this area."
To Green, it was important that the tour was not only free, but actively benefited a Black-owned business.

Partnered with Chief's Creole Cafe (901 22nd St. S) in St. Pete's historic African-American business district, the tour ends with lunch and a talk by owner Elihu Brayboy about his  lived experience as a lifelong resident of the community and a person who "couldn't go north of Central Avenue after a certain time," according to Green.

"[Brayboy] often hits on some of the Civil Rights activities that went on in the '60s. But I will say  people are just enthralled with what he talks about... it brings to life what history they've just heard," Green said.

The tour returns with new enhancements, including electric cart accommodations for those unable to bike. According to a press release, the tour is optimal for those 13 and over based on content and biking safety. 

Participants are expected to provide their own bikes and helmets are required.

Green, a docent of the Holocaust Museum's civil rights exhibit, created the free tour last year as a volunteer to the community. The exhibit closed as a result of COVID-19.

Green expressed that after working as a docent for the Holocaust Museum's "Beaches, Benches, and Boycotts" exhibit, she was inspired to share her knowledge with the community in hopes of shedding light on racial equity.
"As a white person, I've just heard too many negatives, you know, [people] not understanding our African American residents and neighbors," Green said.

Using books, records, census data and archives to contextualize the tour, Green says she also uses findings from the city commissioned "Structural Racism Study" conducted in November 2021 to illustrate the systemic racism that exists in and beyond the community today.

Green also referenced her own experience living in a historically Black neighborhood as motivation to conduct the tour.

"I have moved into a diverse community, Campbell Park. A lot of folks moving in are white," Green said. "I want them to understand that [the] community has been 75%-80% black for a long time.

"And to understand their neighbors and have compassion for what their ancestors and their family have been through to get to where they are today helps tremendously for harmony in our relations in our neighborhood," Green said.

Since starting Spring 2021, Green's tour has hosted over 350 participants and has garnered six active volunteers.

Reservations are required by emailing [email protected]
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