Combatting Racist Representation

A History of Racist Media

Media plays a powerful role in shaping public opinion and our understanding of ourselves and others. Across media, across generations, the racist portrayal of Black people has been a constant source of disrespect and disservice. Mainstream media has consistently misrepresented, omitted, and dismissed Black people and people of color, doubling down on racist stereotypes and tropes. Just 80 years ago, a mural with racially offensive caricatures of Black people was displayed in St. Pete’s City Hall and its eventual removal by Black community members was met with an arrest and significant jail time.

Black-Owned Newspapers Claim Their Own Narratives

Black-owned newspapers across the country, like St. Pete’s Weekly Challenger, combatted this misrepresentation by giving the Black community their own voice in the media and more accurately documenting the lives and happenings in the Black community. For more than fifty years, The Weekly Challenger Newspaper has been the most comprehensive source of news and information for the Black communities of Tampa Bay.


The Weekly Challenger

Cleveland Johnson, founder and publisher of the Weekly Challenger


Mainstream Media Representation Today

Mainstream media is a critical vehicle in the work of transforming our cultural landscape into one that uplifts and empowers people of color. Inclusion of people of color in media can often be plagued by tokenism, stereotyping, and typecasting. It’s important and necessary that people of color are included in every aspect of the creative process in order to create media that tells authentic stories that exist outside the narrative of oppression and features strong, positive representations of people of color.

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Your History Matters to Our Future

A History of Civil Rights and Social Change in Pinellas County was researched and co-curated by local historians Gwendolyn Reese and Jon Wilson.

Far from an exhaustive account of Pinellas County’s history, this overview is an evolving project that serves as an entry point for education, understanding, and further exploration.

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