An Ethnohistorical Analysis|
of the Political Economy of Ethnicity
Among African Americans in St. Petersburg, Florida
By EVELYN NEWMAN PHILLIPS
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Anthropology University of South Florida.
May, 1 994
Major Professor: Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph. D.
This dissertation is dedicated to Carolyn and Harry Lee Andrews in fond memory of their son, Alexis, who lost his life in a drowning accident. While grieving the loss of their beloved son, Carolyn and Harry Lee initiated and organized the Newman-Roberts family reunions. Their efforts have helped to preserve our family.
The completion of a dissertaion is a culmination of a cooperative effort. Such process has involved my extended family, community members, friends, committee members, and even strangers. Embedded in this document is a network of love, appreciation, and responsibility. I want to take this opportunity to say "thank-you" to all who supported me during this adventure.
My sincere gratitude is expressed to the members of my committee -- Drs. Susan Greenbaum, Nancy Greenman, Roberta Baer, Aaron Smith, and Patricia Waterman, for their scholarly advise and emotional support. Dr. Susan Greenbaum guided me during this process and kept me on course.
I am very appreciative to the Dr. Juel Smith, Institute on Black Life and the Pride Fellowship for their financial and spiritual support.
To the members of the African American community who opened their lives and homes, the St. Petersburg Times, WTSP (Channel 10), and John Stebbins who allowed me access to their archives, I am forever grateful. Without their cooperation, this thesis would been a very different product.
Most of all, I thank the Omnipotent, Omniscient, the Merciful One -- God, for the means, inspiration, motivation, and persistence to complete this project.
An Abstract of a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Anthropology University of South Florida
Major Professor: Dr. Susan Greenbaum
African Americans in St. Petersburg as elsewhere in the United States in the 1980s, encountered an unforeseen problem. Crack cocaine and the violence associated with it usurped the lives of many of their youths. Intergenerational discontinuities estranged the youth from the values of their elders and created chaos in the neighborhoods. Although public officials and community leaders launched "Just Say No" and "Drug-Free" campaigns, the lives of many African American youth ended in death or jail sentences.
The social history of African Americans in St. Petersburg from 1920 to 1990 was documented in order to understand some of the probable causes for the city's youth crisis. Archival documents and the life histories of thirty-two adults, most over the age of 65 years were explored. These collateral evidences and eye-witness accounts revealed the dialectics of ethnicity, racism, tourism and development.
Since the 1920s, the city of St. Petersburg has consistently pursued a policy of segregation. Using laws and development schemes, the city's leaders have attempted to restrict African American contact with tourists and maintain a strict division of labor. Public policies led to the destruction and disintegration of Methodist Town and Gas Plant -- two of the oldest African American settlements in St. Petersburg. These forces, combined with desegregation of schools, also disrupted the enculturation of African American youths. A political economy of racism and tourism has influenced African Americans and their youths' sense of place and belonging in St. Petersburg.
To inform youths of their cultural legacy, the collected data were
reconstituted into an ethnic heritage program -- La Churasano (culture in Mandinka) -- for adolescents between ages 11 years and 17 years. This study found that among the adolescent participants, the identity of African American youths under age fifteen years is more adversely influenced by stereotypical images of African Americans than older youths.
Finally, this work includes a discussion of the implications of applying native anthropology. This analysis is a reflection of what it means to be an African American anthropologist studying African Americans.
This dissertation is a documentation of the lives of African Americans in St. Petersburg, an identification of their indigenous cosmology, and a summary of the development and implementation of a community-based enculturation model. It shows that the present crisis existing among African American youth is linked to the historical legacy of African Americans in St. Petersburg.
© 1994 Evelyn Newman Phillips. All Rights Reserved.
© 1998 Olive B. McLin Neighborhood Family Center and University of South Florida. All rights reserved.
© 1998 Design: Rochelle Lewis Lavin. All rights reserved.