"When the Train Comes Along”: Booker T. Washington at the Tampa Bay Casino explores the impact of Washington’s 1912 address in Tampa – a mostly forgotten chapter of local history. This exhibit is curated by Dr. Charles McGraw Groh of The University of Tampa and will run through December 23, 2021.
Stopping in Tampa during his 1912 Florida speaking tour, educator and activist Booker T. Washington saw a city divided. In the preceding years, local and state legislation had barred African Americans from political participation and enforced segregation on trains, streetcars, and other public accommodations. For one evening, Washington’s address at the Tampa Bay Casino brought together the Cigar City’s white, black, and Latin populations in a single location. Ironically, this unprecedented event only highlighted the community fissures that would define the era of Jim Crow. “When the Train Comes Along”: Booker T. Washington at the Tampa Bay Casino explores those fractured relations while highlighting the influence of Washington on the strategies adopted by black women and men to live with dignity in this period of Tampa’s history.
This exhibit engages and encourages a vital public discussion about the roots of racial inequality that continue to plague our community, especially in the areas of political representation and education. At the same time, it etches more deeply the lives of people of color into our collective memory. Tampa cannot move forward as a vibrant, diverse city without a clearer understanding of our shared past. This exhibit reminds us that inclusion does not create uniformity. Although the proliferation of separate black social clubs and self-help organizations were, at least in part, a product of exclusion from city services and public accommodations, these community institutions came to define a distinct African American and Afro-Cuban experience in Tampa. This rich heritage is celebrated in the Henry B. Plant Museum’s new exhibit.
The inclusion of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century objects, sound recordings, photographs, maps and more will bring this vital story to life. Accompanying the exhibit will be a variety of programs and events throughout the year.
- August 8, 2021 - Sunday Gospel Brunch, Oxford Exchange, details TBA
- September 17, 2021 - "Shrewd Business Men": The Family of J. Andrew Williams and Jim Crow Tampa, a talk by Guest Curator Dr. Charles McGraw Groh, details TBA
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