For the last ten years my wife, Marian Massey and I, Bob Plummer Massey have owned Road Ready Tours, which is located in Tampa, Florida. We pride ourselves on being an African American family-owned company specializing in motor coach charters and tours throughout the United States and Canada.
One of our special tours that we take pride in is our African American Tour. We have taken groups throughout the U.S. and Canada, visited places such as: Rosewood, Florida; Eatonville, Florida; Key West, Florida; Miami, Florida, Selma Alabama; Montgomery Alabama; Memphis Tennessee, and many other cities and states.
During our travels we have visited numerous African American Museums, although we do have several museums in Tampa which highlights the contributions of other ethnic groups but neglected to include the African Americans as a viable part of the culture; growth; and success of Tampa. Very little, if anything, is mentioned about the contributions that Black African Americans have made to the Tampa Bay Area and also the state of Florida.
Road Ready Tours provides a 3-hour tour of Tampa, visiting many important and interesting places within the Black community that no longer exists, such as “Central Avenue” which was destroyed in the fall of 1974. Over 387 multi-storied structures and most, if not all, of the Black historical buildings have been reduced to empty, open spaces. This was a great loss and a devastating experience for the African American Community of Tampa.
A few remaining historical sites such as: The Kid Mason City Recreation Center; The Longshoremen Hall; Bethel Baptist Church and The Perry Harvey Sr. Park are a scant reminder of what once existed along and around ”Central Avenue”. Central Avenue was the pulse of the Black businesses (grocery stores, hotels, cafes, restaurants, day care nursery, movie theatre, recreation centers, night clubs, cab stations, etc.). There are current plans to expand the interstate highway which will eliminate the remainder of these buildings and also the park.
For the next generation of Blacks in Tampa there will be no visible trace of the legacies of “Central Avenue”. When we lose chunks of history in Tampa and other cities, we risk losing the lessons that the past can teach us. We fail to appreciate the achievements of countless ordinary people who made extraordinary gestures to secure a better life for themselves, their children and their community.
The Florida African Museum is the first step in rescuing the endangered part of our heritage. Let’s make this project happen, this is your museum, your legacy for present, past and future generations.
The mission of the Florida African American Museum of Tampa Florida is to provide programming and events that foster the intellectual development of Florida’s community members and visitors with an interest in the diversity of art and history of Florida. A primary goal is to gather and disseminate the history of African Americans living in the State of Florida who’s contributions encourage and promote life long learning.
The purpose of the museum is to provide quality life-affirming multi-cultural history of Florida, “past and present”. The museum is a multi-disciplinary cultural institution that provides art installations, historical exhibitions, film programs, community service events, and educational programming.