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For the Culture: Local literature museum educates community on history, diversity of African culture

For The Culture

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A rare and unique local literature museum is making sure all historical and diverse aspects of African culture are being told to the Tampa Bay community.

GiGi Best is a genealogist who fell in love with history, education, books and impacting others.

“I’ve been a writer since I was 9 years old, always loved books,” Best said. “When I got a little older I began looking into my own family tree and have traced my genealogy back centuries.”

It’s that tracing when she starting learning historical stories of African descendants that weren’t ever taught in the school system. When Best attended a historically Black university, she realized a lot of African culture and stories were left out of the mainstream education system.

“We read the Odyssey in the 9th, the Iliad in the 10th, Shakespeare. All of those [are] what they call the classics, but now we know the Europeans aren’t the only ones who wrote classics,” she said.

Best started her own collection of rare books by African authors that told the whole story about the African diaspora, which is the forced and unforced spread of Africans and their descendants.

“We don’t just want the European story told, we want the African diaspora told,” Best said. “‘There’s so much of our history that has been lost.”

That’s why Best and her husband, Skip Richardson, created the Best-Richardson African Diaspora Culture and Literature Museum. It began 24 years ago in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“We come from all different parts of the world, we look different, we might speak different, but that African diaspora is a very, very strong base for our society,” Best said. “We want to let people know how rich our culture is and the fact that there are writers who have written about our culture for years.”

Tucked away in Tampa Park Plaza on 1463 Tampa Park Plaza Ste A, The BRADLCM tells the true and full story of the African diaspora through rare books by African writers that date back to the 1800 and 1900s. There’s also a museum with artifacts from Ghana, Egypt, from Gullah Geechi culture, and more.

“We were written out of history,” Best said. “We want to show that we’ve always been here.”

The community can check out all the bookstore and museum has to offer Tuesday through Saturday.

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