Tampa Bay History Center Florida Conversations: José Martí in Tampa, Carver City/Lincoln Gardens

The Tampa Bay History Center’s Florida Conversations series starts the year with two events delving into distinct chapters of Tampa history. 

On Wednesday, January 18th, retired Judge Emiliano Jose “E.J.” Salcines will give a talk on legendary Cuban revolutionary José Martí's time in Tampa and how it made the city the cradle of Cuban independence from Spain.  

On Wednesday, February 15th, anthropologist Lisa Armstrong will discuss the historic Black Tampa communities of Carver City and Lincoln Gardens, where many Black veterans returning from World War II settled. 

Both events begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Water St. in Tampa. They are free, open to the public and have in-person and Zoom options to attend. 

“Martí traveled to Tampa at least 20 times to raise money and support for the Cuban revolution against the Spanish,” says Rodney Kite-Powell, curator at the Tampa Bay History Center. “For Cuba, he is George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Even today, if you go to Cuba, he’s held up as a hero by the current government. Martí died very early in the conflict with Spain, in 1895, so he became a martyr for this idea of Cuban independence. So he can be revered by Cubans from all sides of the spectrum.”

Kite-Powell says Salcines has spent years researching and speaking on Martí’s time in Tampa, as well as the city’s Cuban, Spanish and Italian history.

February’s presenter, Armstrong, has a doctorate in anthropology from USF and does research on marginalized African American communities and segregated spaces. Her event will focus on the adjacent Tampa subdivisions of Carver City and Lincoln Gardens, which were built for and marketed to Black veterans of World War II in the late 1940s, during segregation and at a time when the federal government’s discriminatory policies had not allowed Black veterans to use the housing benefits in the GI Bill. 

“It’s unfortunate people do not know the history of these neighborhoods and that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing that Florida Conversation,” Kite-Powell says. "The neighborhoods she’s going to be talking about are very much a part of Tampa’s history, although I do not think they’re as well known as they should be.”

For more information, please go to Florida Conversations.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.