Honoring Black History Through Local Journalism

Throughout the month of February, Report for America corps members have provided critical coverage of Black history in communities across the country.  

Report for America corps member Will Brown covered the LaVilla community’s resistance to a planned gas station that was developed without community input and with little attention to the area’s Black history– once nicknamed the “Harlem of the South.” 

1. Downtown board’s deferral of planned LaVilla gas station hailed as community victory

After community backlash, a planned gas station in LaVilla, Jacksonville, has been postponed. LaVilla, a historically Black community, was once nicknamed the Harlem of the South and was “largely razed in the name of 1990s urban redevelopment.” “We don’t want LaVilla to become a big living museum,” Hall says. “We want to restore it back to its greatness, put it back on the national stage …I just don’t think a gas station with a beer garden does that for the community.”
Will Brown | Jacksonville Today

2. Arizona's first African American history museum opens in Tucson

Arizona’s first African American history museum opened last month as a solution to an issue discovered by a 7-year-old Tucson student while working on a school project — there was no museum in Arizona to learn about the accomplishments of Black Arizonans. “Where is the museum here where I can go to and find African American people that look like me,” the museum’s founder, Beverely Elliott, recalled her grandson, now 9 years old, asking her. Over 350 people stood in line to wait to get into the museum, more than quadruple the expected number, coming from all over southern Arizona and even Phoenix to witness the museum’s opening. Sarah Lapidus | Arizona Republic

3. Congress members introduce Black History Bill amid “attacks” on education

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in partnership with Representatives Kweisi Mfume from Maryland and Joyce Beatty from Ohio, announced three bills highlighting and preserving Black history in classrooms “under attack.” These new federal bills respond to a wave of state laws that intend to censor discussions and books about race, accurate depictions of Black history and even gender. In states like Florida, under Republican Governor DeSantis, the college board stripped an advanced course on Black History studies. Ariama C. Long | New York Amsterdam News

4. Health officials discuss medical wrongs against Black community

Decades later, the descendants of Black people harmed by medical research in the past say they are still dealing with the impact of those transgressions, but hope discussing what took place can begin a new phase for Black healthcare. They met this February in Tuskegee, Alabama, the location of the infamous U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study — a 40-year study from that included 623 Black men, and left nearly 400 with untreated syphilis, even after penicillin became the standard treatment for the disease in 1947. Donovan J. Thomas | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

5. Inside a Flint pastor’s unique mission to teach Black history

In Flint, Michigan, Reverend Dr. Kim Yarber is dedicated to teaching and preserving Black history. On top of sermons and Sunday school lectures, Yarber spends roughly half of each year researching and designing his annual African American history calendar. The calendars are meticulously crafted, to the point that almost every day on each year’s calendar features a note on a significant event in African American history. Each month is dedicated to a historical figure as well, including illustrations and brief biographies. Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat

About Report for America
Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities across the United States and its territories. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.