The first extensive study of the African American community under colonial Spanish rule, Black Society in Spanish Florida provides a vital counterweight to the better-known dynamics of the Anglo slave South. Jane Landers draws on a wealth of untapped primary sources, opening a new vista on the black experience in America and enriching our understanding of the powerful links between race relations and cultural custom. Blacks under Spanish rule in Florida lived not in cotton rows or tobacco patches but in a more complex and international world that linked the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and a powerful and diverse Indian hinterland. Here the Spanish Crown afforded sanctuary to runaway slaves, making the territory a prime destination for blacks fleeing Anglo plantations, while Castilian law (grounded in Roman law) provided many avenues out of slavery, which it deemed an unnatural condition. European-African unions were common and accepted in Florida, with families of African descent developing important community connections through marriage, concubinage, and godparent choices. Assisted by the corporate nature of Spanish society, Spain's medieval tradition of integration and assimilat
In this penetrating examination of African American politics and culture, Paul Ortiz throws a powerful light on the struggle of black Floridians to create the first statewide civil rights movement against Jim Crow. Concentrating on the period between the end of slavery and the election of 1920, Emancipation Betrayed vividly demonstrates that the decades leading up to the historic voter registration drive of 1919-20 were marked by intense battles during which African Americans struck for higher wages, took up arms to prevent lynching, forged independent political alliances, boycotted segregated streetcars, and created a democratic historical memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Contrary to previous claims that African Americans made few strides toward building an effective civil rights movement during this period, Ortiz documents how black Floridians formed mutual aid organizations--secret societies, women's clubs, labor unions, and churches--to bolster dignity and survival in the harsh climate of Florida, which had the highest lynching rate of any state in the union. African Americans called on these institutions to build a statewide movement to regain the right to vote after World War I. African American women played a decisive role in the campaign as they mobilized in the months leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. The 1920 contest culminated in the bloodiest Election Day in modern American history, when white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan violently, and with state sanction, prevented African Americans from voting. Ortiz's eloquent interpretation of the many ways that black Floridians fought to expand the meaning of freedom beyond formal equality and his broader consideration of how people resist oppression and create new social movements illuminate a strategic era of United States history and reveal how the legacy of legal segregation continues to play itself out to this day.
Devil in the Grove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, is a gripping true story of racism, murder, rape, and the law. It brings to light one of the most dramatic court cases in American history, and offers a rare and revealing portrait of Thurgood Marshall that the world has never seen before. As Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns did for the story of America's black migration, Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove does for this great untold story of American legal history, a dangerous and uncertain case from the days immediately before Brown v. Board of Education in which the young civil rights attorney Marshall risked his life to defend a boy slated for the electric chair--saving him, against all odds, from being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.
This book provides an intimate look at the lives of former African-American farmworkers who labored in central Florida's farms along the shores of Lake Apopka. The author familiarizes readers with the history of Lake Apopka and the social and environmental injustice centered on food production that has taken place there.
Paradise Park was the "colored only" counterpart to Silver Springs, a central Florida tourist attraction famous for its crystal-clear water and glass bottom boats. Together the two parks comprised one of the biggest recreational facilities in the country before Disney World. From 1949 to 1969, boats passed each other on the Silver River--blacks on one side, whites on the other. Though the patrons of both parks shared the same river, they seldom crossed the invisible line in the water. Full of vivid photographs, vintage advertisements, and interviews with employees and patrons, Remembering Paradise Park portrays a place of delight and leisure during the painful era of Jim Crow. Racial violence was at its height in Florida--the famous Groveland rape case happened right as Paradise Park opened--and many African Americans saw the park as a safe place for families. It was a popular vacation spot for the area's black community, one of the most cohesive and prosperous in the South. Tracing the color line through Florida's most famous spring, this book compares the park to other tourist destinations set aside for African Americans in the state and across the country. Though Silver Springs was Florida's only attraction to operate a parallel facility for African Americans, Paradise Park has been just a whisper in the story of Florida tourism until now.
With this powerful, evocative new book, St. Petersburg residents Jon Wilson and Rosalie Peck present an informative narrative that explores the history of St. Petersburg, Florida's most vibrant African American neighborhood: 22nd Street South or "the deuces." Throughout the city's history, no other area has personified strength for the African American community like this segregation-era thoroughfare. A haven during the brutal Jim Crow years, 22nd Street South was a place where prominent businessmen and community leaders were the role models and residents and neighbors looked out for one another. The close-knit community encouraged strong, positive values even as its members were treated as second-class citizens in the wider world. Authors Wilson and Peck tell the story of this unique district and how its people and events contributed to and helped to shape the history of St. Petersburg in the context of the greater South and the Civil Rights Movement.
A historian hoping to reconstruct the social world of all-black towns or the segregated black sections of other towns in the South finds only scant traces of their existence. In Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life, Tiffany Ruby Patterson uses the ethnographic and literary work of Zora Neale Hurston to augment the few official documents, newspaper accounts, and family records that pertain to these places hidden from history. Hurston's ethnographies, plays, and fiction focused on the day-to-day life in all-black social spaces as well as the Negro farthest down in labor camps. Patterson shows how Hurston's work complements the fragmented historical record, using the folklore and stories to provide a full description of these people of these towns as active human subjects, shaped by history and shaping their private world. Beyond the view and domination of whites in these spaces, black people created their own codes of social behavior, honor, and justice. In Patterson's view Hurston renders her subjects faithfully and with respect for their individuality and endurance, enabling all people to envision an otherwise inaccessible world.
The Silencing of Ruby McCollum refutes the carefully constructed public memory of one of the most famous--and under-examined--biracial murders in American history. On August 3, 1952, African American housewife Ruby McCollum drove to the office of Dr. C. LeRoy Adams, beloved white physician in the segregated small town of Live Oak, Florida. With her two young children in tow, McCollum calmly gunned down the doctor during (according to public sentiment) "an argument over a medical bill." Soon, a very different motive emerged, with McCollum alleging horrific mental and physical abuse at Adams's hand. In reaction to these allegations and an increasingly intrusive media presence, the town quickly cobbled together what would become the public facade of Adams's murder--a more "acceptable" motive for McCollum's actions. To ensure this would become the official version of events, McCollum's trial prosecutors voiced multiple objections during her testimony to limit what she was allowed to say. Employing multiple methodologies to achieve her voice--historical research, feminist theory, African American literary criticism, African American history, and investigative journalism--Evans analyzes the texts surrounding the affair to suggest that an imposed code of silence demands not only the construction of an official story but also the transformation of a community's citizens into agents who will reproduce and perpetuate this version of events, improbable and unlikely though they may be.
Mary McLeod Bethune was often called the 'First Lady of Negro America,' but she made significan contributions to the politaical climate of Florida as well. From the founding of the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in 1904, Bethune galvanized African American women for change. She created an environment in Daytona Beach that, despite racial tension throughtout the state, allowed Jackie Robinson to begin his journey to integrating Major League Baseball less than two miles away from her school. Today, her legacy lives through a number of institutions, including Bethune-Cookman University and the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation National Historic Landmark. Historian Ashley Robertson explores the life, leadership and amazing contributions of this dynamic activist.
On August 15, 1887, 22 years out of slavery a group of 27 black men, including Joseph E. Clark, met in the Oddfellows Hall, a building donated to the new community by Lewis Lawrence, and voted on the question of incorporating the Town of Eatonville in Orange County, Florida in response to a legal notice advertised in the "Maitland Courier." These men, all residing within the boundaries of the proposed town, voted unanimously to incorporate the municipality, Eatonville, named for Capt. Josiah Eaton of Maitland, is recognized today as the oldest incorporated all-black town in the United States.