Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
March 29, 2022

Grow Team Members Join Black History Tour in Downtown Tampa

In celebration of Black History Month, the Grow Diversity Committee had the opportunity to participate in Tampa’s Black History Tour, led by noted local historian Fred Hearns and hosted by the Tampa Bay History Center. Team members toured “the Harlem of the South,” Central Avenue district, and learned about life in Tampa’s African-American community from the 1890s to the 1960s.

Participants walked about one mile along public sidewalks and brick streets. The outdoor trek started at St. Paul AME Church and explored the political, social, musical and religious traditions of the Black community in Tampa. Several Grow team members had the chance to join the tour, including Khenh Vong, Web Application Developer, Helen Betancourt, Real Estate Loan Officer, and Jessica Richard, Marketing Project Coordinator. Each of them shared thoughts about the event and what made it memorable and educational.

Richard, a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area, reflected on the breadth of history right at our own doorstep. “It’s incredible how many stories are held within just a single mile of Tampa. Even having grown up in the Tampa Bay area, there’s still so much I can learn through participating in local events like the Black History Tour,” Richard said.

Vong, member of Grow’s Diversity Committee, reflected on a particularly remarkable historical figure, Madame Fortune Taylor. “I enjoyed this event so much! Our tour guide mentioned Fortune Taylor, who has a bridge named after her in downtown Tampa. She accumulated 30 acres of land, but over time, that land was taken from her through various laws and other questionable means. The Black History Tour really tied all the history together in a very meaningful way.”

While the tour focused on Black history in particular, the Ybor City area of Tampa has a deep history for Hispanic communities as well. Betancourt shared, “It was really interesting to find out that Ybor City was named after Vicente Martinez Ybor, an immigrant of Cuba, who contributed so much to the development of the Tampa Bay area. Something I appreciated — perhaps because I am a Latina — is knowing that I have the privileges I have because of other Latinos that made the way in history for us.”

Our Grow Diversity Committee looks forward to joining several other walking tours throughout the year to serve as ongoing educational opportunities for our team. Thank you to all our team members who participated in the Black History Tour in downtown Tampa!

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