"By Bob Andelman"
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By Bob Andelman
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(Since Oct. 7, 1999)
Profile By Bob Andelman
(Originally published in the Maddux Report, 1989)
Bob Andelman Articles
Peggy Peterman modestly says she's only been getting so much
public praise and so many awards lately only because she's stuck
around so long.
The St. Petersburg Times reporter who received the Lifetime Achievement
Award by the National Association of Black Journalists and the
Florida A&M University Meritorious Achievement Award has
worked to improve racial relations between black and white communities
since she came to the newspaper's old "Negro News Page"
in 1965. Back then she wrote about blacks for blacks the "Negro
News Page" was only distributed in black neighborhoods.
Peterman pressed the newspaper to abolish the page it was finally
discontinued in 1967.
Today she writes about African-Americans for a wider audience
in a weekly column for the newsfeatures section of the Times.
Her subject matter ranges from racially-motivated attacks on
youths in Bensonhurst, N.Y. and interviews with artists such
as filmmaker Spike Lee to the struggle to re-name boulevards
for Martin Luther King, Jr. and profiles of St. Petersburg blacks
working to improve their neighborhoods and establish community
"I have so many ideas I'm falling over myself. I couldn't
have had a column like this 10 years ago," says Peterman,
suggesting that times and the Times have changed slowly. "I
feel so appreciative and grateful to the Times for allowing me
to have a voice. I want to explain how African-Americans feel,
what they dream of, what they struggle around."
Peterman's father was a civil rights leader in their hometown
of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. She used to listen to Supreme
Court Justice Thurgood Marshall speak in the family's home. "I
don't know a time I wasn't watching my back for the Ku Klux Klan
in Alabama or racist attitudes in Florida," says Peterman.
"You don't know how to stop struggling when you've struggled
all that time."
The difference between Peggy Peterman and another reporter covering
black issues is their approach. Most reporters look at St. Petersburg's
Laurel Park low-income apartments in the shadow of the Florida
Suncoast Dome and see what they would call "projects"
or "slums." Peterman looks at it and sees a place someone
"The most colorful, alive community is the African-American
community," says Peterman. "There is pain and suffering
but there is also joy and love. It's not just criminals."
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