The Weekly Challenger Archive


Cleveland Johnson

Founded in 1967, The Weekly Challenger has spent over 50 years highlighting local black history, culture, accomplishments, and opinions often neglected by other publications.

In November of 2018, the USFSP Nelson Poynter Memorial Library finished digitizing it’s physical archive of The Weekly Challenger, and uploaded the entire collection to their website.

We at NNB think this archive and the history contained within is as valuable a historical resource as any other, and have put together a helpful companion piece here to help you navigate it. We hope you take the time to read through this important trove of local history, and find it as enriching as we have.

To access the archive, go to , from here you can click on any year and see a list of all the issues from that year found in the archive.


To view an issue, first click on either the date or the picture from the list. Then, right click on the blue “download” button and select “Save link as…” from the drop down menu (See image to the right).

A popup will appear asking you to choose where to save the file, select your preferred location (it should default to your “downloads” folder), and click “Save”. It should then start downloading the issue. The files can be large, usually around 80-100MBs, so this may take a while. But once it’s done downloading, you can then access it at any time using your preferred .pdf viewer, such as Adobe Reader.

The file reader should be able to read the text, so if you are searching for a specific word or phrase, you can use the “find” function (Ctrl+F on Windows) and type in what you are looking for, and it should detect it. (Note: This feature is not perfect, and you may have to still do some manual searching)

A Friend is Very Hard to Find by W.F. Allen – May 14, 1983

Many times we meet a person; we start talking and from this conversation we feel this person is very nice to talk to and be with. Then we sometimes open up and tell that person all of our personal secrets. The reason for this is because we feel we have found a true friend. We then invite him or her to our home. We have our new friend meet the family and a few of our friends. We do not realize that our new so-called friend may not be liked by some of our family and friends.

That is when our work begins. Maybe our surroundings are not the same as his. He just might gossip about this to others. He may very well behave in a manner that the family does not approve of or dislikes. For
instance, he may very well be nosey, drink too much, laugh or talk very loud, or just be disrespectful to the family. This just may cause a lot of dissension in your own environment.

Now you have found this great new friend and so far he has only disturbed the ones you love.
But you feel faithful so far and hardly knowing him, you stop socializing with your old friends, putting all your confidence in him or her. Suddenly your new friend starts to talk about all of the personal business you so readily told him. But he just might be relating these confidential things to everyone. This is gossip and this could and very well will make you upset. But actually you caused this yourself only by confiding to a person you really do not know about your very intimate business. This may very well make you angry. When you finally confront your friend, he will deny this and you then realize he was not a true friend at all. Unfortunately he now knows all your business.

You will find out as years go by it is very hard to find a truly sincere friend, one that will be faithful to you by not talking to others about you and keeping everything you have said to himself. This is who you will call your friend. Your friend, a person who does not gossip, is not jealous, will never use you, and is happy for you when you are happy. He is sad when you are sad. A friend always understands you and is always ready to help you when you are in need.

No road is too long for a true friend to walk. If he or she is that kind of a true friend, he will be loving, caring, understanding, trusting and sharing. Above all, that is a true friend.


Political Campaign Spending Out Of Control by Sen. Lawton Chiles – March 28, 1987

At the beginning of the century, scandal was a too common companion of politics. Offices were sometimes bought and sold.

Increasingly, it is being suggested we are returning to those days in a somewhat more subtle way. It’s called campaign contributions: Massive amounts of money are being given, particularly to congressional candidates. The givers insist that they are just buying access, but more and more we are having to wonder if the influence isn’t much greater.

The cost of running for the U.S. Senate has soared — from $34.7 million for the 1974 elections to over $153 million in 1986.

The biggest reason for this tremendous growth can be directly linked to the skyrocketing growth of special interest political action committees (PACs). Their contributions to Senate candidates increased from $5.4 million in 1976 to over $44 million — an eightfold increase.

That is way too much money. PACs have helped create a situation where money is more important than the message In today’s campaigns. Many candidates go for campaign funding to PACs first — and often. Campaign budgets have become based not on what is needed, but how much you can get.

Continuous fundraising and bigger campaign coffers have also greatly increased the length of campaigns. A not-yet-interested public must endure early TV commercials, recently even in the year before the election! I’m afraid months of 30 second spots not only has its limitations as a means of educating the voter but also turns off and tunes out people before the election gets close. No wonder voter turnouts at the polls are disappointing.

I hope the American people are beginning to recognize that all this is not serving their best interests.

Senators Boren and Byrd have proposed legislation to improve U.S. Senate campaign operations, and I support that effort, it would allow bonafide candidates 10 receive some public financing in return for limiting contributions from PACs and capping overall general election spending, In Florida that cap would be $2.8 million. This bill would also reduce the amount a PAC can contribute to a candidate from $5,000 to $3,000.

To further strengthen Boren-Byrd, l have proposed limiting the total amount a PAC can contribute to all candidates to $300,000 during the two year election cycle. There ls no limit now.

If a candidate opts to participate in public financing, l would restrict use of those funds from Labor Day to the November election and prohibit TV advertising prior to Labor Day, thus reducing the test of the public’s endurance.

The signals I’m reading give promise that campaign financing reform ls possible in this Congress. Hearings have been held and many Congressional leaders have spoken out against the proliferation of PAC money and the outrageous cost of Senate campaigns. So, I am hopeful we will see new campaign laws which will dampen the influence of PACs and return emphasis to involvement of Individuals in the campaign process.


Black Leaders Oppose Psychiatric Drugging Of Children by Alexander R. Jones – July 25, 1987

There is Increasing opposition among Black leaders around the Country against the psychiatric practice of putting small children on the drug Ritalin, an amphetamine, to handle the questionable diagnosis of “hyperactivity.”

Attorney Thomas Broome, president of the National Bar Association, is adamant in his opposition to the use of the drug. “I’m very familiar with Ritalin,” he told me in a phone interview. “It surfaced several years ago. I’m opposed to it. In fact, I’m entirely opposed to this whole concept of drugging Black kids. I’m of the opinion that social workers are using Black kids as guinea pigs to further their own careers. That concerns me very much.”

When I asked him what kind of results he had observed with Ritalin, he commented, “I have observed LACK of results. It doesn’t work. I’ve seen no example where Ritalin has had any effect, other than a negative effect of giving a kid a drug.”

Broome’s position is well founded. Prevalent psychiatric “diagnosis and treatment” are based on some of the most unscientific thinking you can find anywhere. One of the rare, truly scientific CONTROLLED studies done on the effectiveness of psychiatric drugs, showed conclusively that the patients who received no drugs at all did the best. Yet this study, and voluminous evidence which shows that psychiatric drugs have, and are seriously harming people, has been almost completely ignored by psychiatrists. It is easier and more profitable to continue to drug patients. Now they want to drug our children.

James Carter, a retired eduction of 26 years and consultant to the Congressional Slack Caucus, explained: “As an educator, I would be opposed to a child taking drugs. I would have a real problem with that.” Carter, who is a board member of the Secretary of Education’s Task Force on Illiteracy, was one of the chief national architects in the organization of the Black vote which resulted in the return of the Senate to democratic control last November.

Verna Lawes, executive secretary for the National Political Congress of Black Women, expressed similar sentiments. “I would never allow my children to be given a drug to alter their behavior. I think that the reason for giving drugs is not so much to make life easier for the patient, but to make life easier and more profitable for other people.”

Get the facts. For a free booklet on the psychiatric drugging of children write me at Suite 200, 316 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003.

Articles From History (Before 1990)

October 6, 1973 

“Leading Minister Educator and Columist Rev. William A. Smith Mourned”  (Page 1)

September 22, 1979

“Shake-up of POC top brass expected”(P1) – Piece on complaints about management of the Pinellas Opportunity Council

“Schools on big recruiting program for more minorities” (P1) – Story on the push to increase black teacher population from 10.6% to the 14.3% goal

“Black Political Power still undermined…” (P1-2) – Piece on the difficulties in getting black officials elected to office due to remaining institutional barriers

“Black Men and Women in American History” (P7) – Short Biographies on Caterina Jarboro, George Henry White, and Roland Hayes

“VIP Social Club Debut” (P20) – Piece on the V.l.P. Social Club of Tampa’s official debut

December 26, 1981

“The Association of Landlords and Shelter Owners Inc.” (P1) – Piece on the history and operations of the Association of Landlords and Shelter Owners [INCOMPLETE]

May 14, 1983

“A Nation At Risk…Thanks Mr. Reagan” (P1) – Piece blaming the rapid decline of educational quality in the US on budget cuts imposed by the Reagan Administration

“Judge: Florida Can Legally Withold Diplomas For Failing Literacy Test” (P1) – Piece on a new ruling that would disproportionately prevent black students from earning high school diplomas

“A Friend is Very Hard to Find” (P3) – W.F. Allen column about the struggles of finding friends that get along with family

July 30, 1983

“Involvement Can Fight Educational Genocide” (P1) – Discusses problems in educational system for black students

“Love + Knowledge = Growth”  (P2) – Columnist Tony Brown discusses the benefits of Private Schools for Black children

“Summer Program Prepares Blacks For Health Careers” (P3) – Discusses the shortage of blacks in medical professions and various initiatives to close that gap

“Afro-American Writers: Where Are They?” (P7) – SPJC Instructor Mary Beauchamp laments the decline of black authors in literary circles.

May 19, 1984

“Special Assistant To The Governor” (P1) – A Piece on Marvin Davies, black civil rights activist appointed as Special Assistant to then-Governor Bob Graham

“Julian Bond Critizes Effects Of Reaganomics On Blacks At Urban League Dinner” (P1,2, and 10) 

“Richard Pryor Comes Home” (P7) – Columnist Tony Brown previews his interview with comedic legend Richard Pryor

“Black Families Under Seige Part l” (P17) – Short piece on the struggles faced by black families

“Black Family Summit Participants Return Home Armed With Plans For Action” (P6, 24)

January 12, 1985

“U.S. Approves Election Plan To Chagrin Of Blacks” (P20) – An update on the NAACP’s struggle to get fairer districts for Hillsborough county commissioner drawn up so that a black commissioner could finally be elected.

December 12, 1985

“Peace On Earth? South Africa No! (P2) – An Editorial about the Apartheid system in South Africa

“Now Jordan Park Manager” (P2) – Askla Muhammad Aquil becomes manager of the Jordan Park Housing Project

“Captain Floyd Reeves” (P4) – Talks about Floyd Reeves, the first Black Police Captain of Tallahassee (since 1913)

“It’s Your PSC: Kate Visits Tallahassee” (P15) – Story on Hurricane Kate’s damage done in Tallahassee

“South Africa Comes To St. Petersburg” (P25) – Short article discussing Police violence on local black youths, specifically an attack on Vincent Thomas, Anthony Taylor and Stacy Wiggins

[Season’s Greetings special insert]

“Special Celebration for Special People” – Pair of biographies on two important local reverends, Preston Leonard (P2,4,5,9 and THEN 7) and Cornelius Bryant (P2 & 9)

“St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church” (P4-5) – Article about the history of the church and the first black church services in St. Pete, very informative

January 18, 1986

“Will Dr King’s Dream Ever Become A Reality?” (P1-2) – Editorial on the progress (or lack thereof) in the black civil rights struggle since MLK’s “I have a dream” speech

“American Public Responds to Observance of MLK [Holiday]” Interesting piece about the excitement leading up to the first MLK Day, and how people around the country and world were preparing

“The Imperfection Of Practice” (P16) – Brief but interesting column by Dr. Sylvester Harte, about how practice does not necessarily mean improvement

“NCAA Proposal Could Hurt Black Schools” (P19) – Article about how a proposed NCAA rule change would make it harder for historically black colleges to recruit students

February 8, 1986

“Are We Afraid Of Progress?” (P1) – Editorial about the economic development of St. Petersburg as a city, focuses on losing the Mets’ spring training location, and developments with the pier.

“Store Features ‘Foods From Africa’” (P2) – Story about “Jonnie’s Bodega” on 4th St. S., and the variety of imported foreign foods offered there

“2 Who Gave Us Hope Have Left Our Midst” (P3) – Story about the passing of two beloved local figures, active volunteer Mrs. Louise Graham, and civil rights lawyer Morris Milton

“Hundreds Attend Milton’s Funeral” (P9) – Coverage of the funeral of civil rights lawyer Morris Milton

“Black American History” (P8-10) – Info about the lives of important black historical figures: Bessie Coleman, Fanny M. Jackson Coppin, Charles L. Reason, Robert Smalls, and Augustus Tolton

“Mrs. Graham Lived A Dedicated Life” (P11) – Coverage of the Funeral of Mrs. Louise Graham

“James Sanderlin Takes His Second District Court Post” (P17) – Judge James Sanderlin, the first black judge in Pinellas County, takes up his post as 2nd District Court of Appeals judge after 8 years on the 6th judicial circuit court.

“NCAA Rule May Aid Small Black Schools” (P19) – Short piece on how new academic requirements that would keep qualified athletes from gaining entrance to Division I schools might mean a new pool of talent for traditionally black Division II schools

“L. Ron Hubbard Dies; Wills Estate To Scientology” (P22) – Story announcing the death of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard

April 26, 1986

“Haitians Still In “Misery”” (P1) – Update on the situation in Haiti months after the expulsion of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier

“Has Bombing Done Any Good?” (P1) – Discussion of the Reagan Administration’s bombing campaign in Libya

“Editorial: ls Florida Ready To Renew Widespread Cigarette Smuggling?” (P3) – Piece on the unlicensed sale of cigarettes in Florida due to high taxes

“Famous Black Americans” (P10) – Short Biographies on Catherine Ferguson, Robert Brown Elliott, and Prince Hall and his Freemasons

March 28, 1987 [Tampa Edition]

“Blacks Lead As AIDs Victims” (P1) – Breakdown of the statistics surrounding blacks affected by the AIDs crisis

“Day Of Shame” (P1) – Breakdown of recent election results, including the loss of the only local black candidate, which the article blames on low black turnout

“Political Campaign Spending Out Of Control” (P3) – Article about increasing cost of elections, due to PACs

April 11, 1987

“What Now?” – Article on the killing of blacks by police and measures being taken to reduce them

May 2, 1987

“Good Judgement” (P1) – Article praising the St. Pete Police’s handling of an active shooter while criticizing the shoot-first, ask questions later policy of the Tampa Police Department

“JWB Approves Adolescent Health Services” (P3) – Story about the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County discussing initiatives to combat teenage pregnancies, including increased health services, education, and the establishment of more health clinics near and in schools.

“County Is 153 Years Old” (P10) – Article with a brief history and fun facts about Hillsborough County for the 153rd anniversary

May 23, 1987

“Bullet Biting Time” (P1) – Front page editorial piece discussing the St. Petersburg City Council’s ongoing discussion over how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including the eventual decision (then only a possibility) to rename 9th St.

“Black Children In The Florida Child Welfare System Fact Sheet” (P4) – Title is self-explanatory

“Gibbs Played Major Role Florida’s History” (P5) – Piece on Jonathan C. Gibbs, the first (and still, only) black Secretary of State in Florida’s history

June 20, 1987

“Progress Of Black Women” (P9) – Statistics and info on the increase in college-educated and employed black women in the US

“Suspension Of Voting Rights” (P10) – Small piece about the imminent suspension of nearly 60,000 voters from Hillsborough County for not voting since 1984

“Kool & The Gang Receive Special Award” (P22) – Small Piece about award for volunteer service given to “Kool and the Gang” by the city of Tampa

July 4, 1987

“Sales Tax Will Cost You” (P1) – Editorial arguing against a recently passed state sales tax increase

“Dear Editor” (P3) – Letter from a reader angry about the framing of a black man for the clearly accidental death of a Tampa police officer

“At 96, Robert Chaney Has Clear Mind, Lots Of Memories” (P6) – Lengthy piece about a local 96-year-old, and his life and as a traveling bricklayer

“St. Pete’s Black Community Gets First McDonald’s Restaurant” (P16) – Title is self-explanatory, lots of photos

July 11, 1987

“Who’s At Fault in Deputies Wreck?” (P1) – Editorial discussing framing of local black man for accidental police death, mentioned in previous week’s letter to the editor

“Situation In Haiti Moving Toward Crisis Point” (P3) – Update on the situation in Haiti following the flight of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier

“High Risk Campaign Strategy Pays Off For Minority Candidate” (P9) – Piece on the recent success of Mike Espy, the first black congressman to be elected in Mississippi since the 1880s

July 25, 1987

“We Want Truth” (P1) –Editorial demanding the US government release further info about a recently leaked Reagan-administration document that advocated for, among other things, in a time of national emergency, the abdication of US military power over to FEMA and the internment of over 21 million “American Negroes”

Black Leaders Oppose Psychiatric Drugging Of Children” (P3) – Column by Alexander R. Jones discussing the dangers of administering drugs such as Ritalin to black children

“Prejudice: What Can Schools Do” (P4) – Donald J. Hayman proposes, along with support from local researchers, the establishment of a program in schools that instructs children on the daily problems that can arise due to prejudice

November 28, 1987

“Afro-Americans Demand More Sanctions Against South Africa” (P1) – Developments in Apartheid-era South Africa raise discussions over increasing economic sanctions

January 16, 1988

“Dream Not Living; Freedom Not Ringing” (P1) – Editorial from the 3rd year of celebrating MLK Day as a national holiday, reflecting on the dreams King had and the progress (or lack thereof) made towards realizing them

“South African Military Helps Make American Films” (P2) – Story about how anti-apartheid activists are calling for the boycotting of the Dolph Lundgren film “Red Scorpion”, because it was largely filmed in a portion of Namibia illegally occupied by the South African military, who had been accused of human rights violations in the area.

“Earth, Wind & Fire” (P9, 19) – Legendary musical group Earth, Wind & Fire launches their first tour in five years from St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Center

“Black QBs Coming to Grid Forefront” (P13, 19) – Editorial about the barriers preventing even the most qualified black college QBs from becoming NFL QBs, and how these are slowly being overcome

January 30,1988

“John L. Smith Named Dean Of USF’s College Of Fine Arts” (P10) – Title is self-explanatory

February 6, 1988

“Doug- A Real Hero” (P1) – Short piece praising Doug Williams for being the first black QB to play in the Super Bowl

“John Brown Russwurm – Founder Of America’s First Black Newspaper” (P9) – Biographical piece, part of Black History Month

AIDS: A Report to the People of District 24 (P24,26) – State Senator Marlene Woodson gives statistics about the AIDS crisis in Florida

August 20, 1988

“Racism in America Growing, Charges Justice Marshall” (P1) – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, in speaking before the National Bar Association, claims that the country has not made as much racial progress as it likes to claim it has, and may in fact be moving backwards

“Honoring The All Black 24th Infantry Regiment” (P3,18) – U.S. Congressional Representative Augustus Hawkins writes about the unfair depictions of a Korean War regiment by historians due to racism from contemporary sources

“Future Top Prosecutor is Tough” (P7) – Article about the imminent appointment of Edward S.G. Dennis as the chief prosecuting attorney in the United States, making him the first African American to hold such a position

August 27, 1988

“U.S. Civil Rights Commission Chair Will Keep Focus to the Right (P1) – Article discussing Ronald Reagan’s appointment of black conservative William B. Allen as chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the general trend towards conservatism in the agency

“Black Delegates Scarce” (P2) – Article about how only 3% of attendees at that year’s Republican National Convention were black, and the general failure of Republicans to reach out to black voters

“House Gets Tough with South Africa Apartheid” (P3) – Editorial about the U.S. House of Representatives passing a bill to prevent any and all investment in South African businesses in protest of the apartheid regime

November 12, 1988

“Education: The Key to Economic Empowerment” (P1) – Editorial discussing and supporting recently-elected president George H.W. Bush’s planned education programs

“Red Ribbon Campaign Call Attention to Drug Abuse Problem” (P2) – List of local activities done in the past week as part of the Red Ribbon Campaign to fight drug abuse

“Lawyer Wins Millions from KKK for Blacks” (P3) – Profile on Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who had been continuously winning lawsuits against KKK members for various hate crimes committed

“Black. Media Group Challenges Japanese Racism” (P3-4) – Black Media executives meet with Japanese business executives to discuss the negative and stereotypical depiction of blacks in Japanese merchandising and marketing

May 20, 1989

“This Way For Black Empowerment” (P1,10) – Article about the unfair separation of black mothers from their children occurring all across the United States via Child Protective Services and other agencies

“1990 – Malcolm X Year” (P3) – Piece about the recent increased interest in the writings in speeches of long-deceased civil rights activist Malcolm X

“Bush Should Listen To Farrakhan” (P10) – Editorial about how president H.W. Bush should meet with black leaders like Louis Farrakhan who can speak for the black community as opposed to black leaders that already support Bush’s initiatives and policies

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