(TAMPA, Sept. 7, 2023) – Thousands of visitors have experienced the Tampa Bay History Center’s new permanent exhibit, Travails and Triumphs since it opened this past summer. The exhibit tells the 500-year story of how people of African descent have lived and labored in the Tampa Bay area. Visitors discover the communities and families they forged, the hardships they endured, the jobs they worked, and the triumphs they celebrated.
Today, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners recognized Travails and Triumphs with a special commendation.
This new experience includes stories from the first African-descended individuals who traveled to Florida during Spanish expeditions in the 1500s. It features documents from the era of enslavement and the U.S. Civil War. The exhibit also chronicles the tremendous growth and successes of Tampa’s Black community in the twentieth century, particularly Central Avenue’s Black business district. Travails and Triumphs also brings the stories of more recent figures to life with interactive displays and more than 100 local artifacts collected and donated to the History Center.
Travails and Triumphs is made possible thanks to support from TECO, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hillsborough County commendation for preservation of regional African American history
The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners is pleased to recognize the Travails and Triumphs exhibition at the Tampa Bay History Center and the inspirational and artistic exploration of African American culture in Hillsborough County.
Created by the staff at the Tampa Bay History Center and sponsored by Hillsborough County, TECO, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Travails and Triumphs serves as a significant work of art that transports all visitors through 500 years of local African American History.
The exhibit is an important chronicle of the hardships the Black community faced over the centuries, in addition to serving as an insightful exploration of the achievements made by Black Tampa Bay area residents. The exhibition’s powerful story begins on the West African coast, where the majority of the first free and enslaved Africans traveled to Tampa Bay.
The historical journey then takes the viewer through 500 years of history to present-day Hillsborough County. It includes items that focus on the backgrounds of Howard W. Blake High School and George S. Middleton High School, longshoremen, Black elected officials, and other numerous fascinating moments and figures in history.
The exhibition took three years to conceptualize, design, and install, and features over 100 objects on display. Travails and Triumphs achieve its mission to tell the long and diverse history of the Black experience in Hillsborough County, where all can learn about and embrace their heritage.