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Tampa Bay History Center author - Fred Hearns

Fred Hearns headshot

About Fred Hearns

Curator of Black History

Fred Hearns was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and grew up in East Tampa, Fla. He graduated from George S. Middleton High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida (USF). Hearns holds master’s degrees from Springfield College in Human Services and USF in Africana Studies. He worked as a newspaper journalist early in his career before becoming Sports Information Director at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.

Hearns began a 32-year career with the City of Tampa in 1975 and retired as director of the Department of Community Affairs in 2007. He has visited Black history museums and historic sites in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Nebraska, among other states. In 2007 Hearns launched his local history tour and consulting businesses, and today operates Fred
Hearns & Associates LLC.

In October 2021, the Tampa Bay History Center hired Hearns as its first Curator of Black History. He speaks on Black history topics in Tampa before the community, government, religious, and business groups in this role. He leads tours on special occasions and coordinates Black history exhibit collections at the History Center. Hearns is a Life Member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He is president of the Zion Cemetery Preservation and Maintenance Society and works with several local committees and groups focusing on local black history.

Media Contact

Billy Somerville: (813) 675-8985; [email protected]

Articles by Fred Hearns


Twistin’ Down Central: A Tribute to Tampa’s Black Music Legends

Tampa Red, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, and Ray Charles are just a few of the notable musicians to play in Tampa during Central Avenue’s heyday. Join us as we dive into the work of legendary Black musicians that lifted spirits and defined Central Avenue’s cultural legacy.

Tampa’s Longshoremen

In the past, ships filled with everything from bananas to bags of cement had to be loaded and unloaded by hand. It could take scores of men several days to fill or empty one ship.