On behalf of the Green Bench Monthly team, I would like to thank everyone for the great response to our first issue. Between the emails and phone calls, it was way more than we hoped for. It was exciting to see that our little magazine, for the most part, was so well received.
I say for the most part because it was brought to our attention that we made a few mistakes in our first issue regarding the green benches. Our editorial, “Hello, St Pete!”, stated that the Green Benches that lined Central in the early 1900s were a symbol of community and welcomeness — implying that they were welcoming to all. And the article titled “The Green Bench History Lesson” now seems less than appropriate considering that we didn’t fully understand the entire historical and cultural significance of the “green benches”… While our article title was meant to be a brief “history lesson” told from a “green bench”, we realize now that it presented only a part of the story.
As many of you know, and I am quickly learning, Saint Petersburg, as well as many other large American cities, has a socially segregated past. Sadly, this meant that the black community was barred from sitting on the green benches, strolling the waterfront parks, or visiting the Million Dollar Pier. Even after the Jim Crow laws were abandoned in St. Pete, most still avoided North of Central because of the abuse that shrouded this area for so many years.
It certainly was not our intent to skim over or leave out part of our City’s past – for better or worse. And most importantly, we want to assure our readers that EVERYONE is welcome on this [green] bench.
In an effort to gather as much information as I can about our city history, and not make a mistake like that again, my neighbor, Valerie, loaned me a book from her collection, titled St Petersburg and The Florida Dream by Raymond Arsenault. This book was also recommended by Erin Blankenship, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at The Florida Holocaust Museum. So I trust it will help us to present a more factual picture moving forward.
As I educate myself, I thank you for your patience and I look forward to publishing more pieces that portray all aspects of our city’s rich history.
One last update – for those of you outside of our mailing area, we do plan to include more neighborhoods in the coming issues. For anyone who wants a copy in the meantime, please email greenbenchmonthly@ gmail.com and we’ll be happy to mail you a copy – most of the time – the same day.
We always welcome your feedback. Please email editor@ greenbenchmonthly.com or call (727) 280-5406
Till next time, Ashley Sica – Publisher