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African-American History Museum May Soon be Homeless

St Petersburg's only African-American history museum may be getting the boot. On Thursday, the St. Petersburg Housing Authority voted 4-3 to sell its property where the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museumcurrently sits.

City Councilman Karl Nurse said city attorneys will determine if  the housing authority has the ultimate say in what happens to the property. The museum has been on that site for 14 years as part of the Jordan Park housing project.

"We had a meeting simultaneously with the housing authority, So, what 7 of the 8 of us did was send letters opposing the sale of the building- essentially, evicting the museum," said Nurse.

But Delphinia Davis, chair of the Housing Authority, maintains this is not about the museum and the  agency is just trying to stay true to its original mission of providing safe, clean and affordable housing.

"This has been an ongoing process between the Housing Authority and the Carter G. Woodson," Davis said, "and given that, we're uncertain of the future that we have to divest ourselves from our commercial property so we can stick to our mission."

 Nurse said they plan to take up the matter in their next session early next week.

In the meantime, the museum in the historic 22nd Street section of St. Petersburg can't do much more than wait, while the city council and the city housing authority debate its future.

 Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin said she just wants to make sure the facility always has a home in St. Petersburg.

"We're not interested in being an arbiter in a landlord-tenant dispute. But, we are very much invested in seeing this important asset perpetuate," said Tomalin.

Tomalin said there are also land use agreements to review before any final decision can be made on the future of the museum.

M.S. Butler joined WUSF in October, 2014 after becoming the first recipient of the Stephen Noble Intern Scholarship. A Bay Area resident since 1999, he became a full-time student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in Fall 2012.He has written articles for the school newspaper The Crow’s Nest covering topics ranging from seasonal flu shots to students carrying guns on campus.