Photo essay: Frederick Douglass Memorial Community Park, Port Tampa

The senior bishop of the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church Worldwide, the Rt. Rev. Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., stopped by Port Tampa on Saturday to break ground on a new park and playground where the historic Frederick Douglass Negro School once stood.

The consecration and groundbreaking ceremony took place across the street from the historic Mt. Zion (Port Tampa) A.M.E. Church at 7401 S. Kissimmee St., where Richardson's father once served as the pastor.

Richardson, a graduate of Florida A&M University who received the Master of Divinity degree from the Turner Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta and the Doctor of Sacred Theology degree at the ITC through the Atlanta Theological Association, told church members and friends who gathered for the service that he remembers well growing up in the neighborhood that provided the foundation for his global service today.

The church's current pastor, the Rev. James T. Golden, led the service, which marks the continuation of an effort to build a community center next to the 132-year-old church and open a unique park and playground for neighborhood children.

Church members are busy planning an anniversary celebration in June and are gathering community support for honoring and preserving the history of the working-class neighborhood that was once home to Port workers in the late 1800s up until recent years when new homes and apartments began to dominate the landscape.

Tampa Architect Jerel McCants is lending his expertise to design the park and playground as well as the community center. McCants, Yvette Lewis, president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, and Clara Glenn, president of the Frederick Douglass Negro School Alumni Association, were in attendance.

For more information and to make a donation, visit the Mt. Zion AME Church Port Tampa website.

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Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is a community leader and award-winning journalist with more than four decades of experience reporting and writing about the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She serves on the boards of the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications Advisory Council, The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council, Sing Out and Read, and StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. She also is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Media. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Tampa Tiger Bay Club, USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP), Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Awesome Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Diane and her husband, Sandy Rief, live in Tampa.