“This is what human rights means in the United States! This is the American way of life.” — Andrei Vishinsky — onetime Soviet foreign minister talking about the Groveland Four case Well, almost seven decades later, the state of Florida took a step to correct a historic wrong. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the three other […]

Fort Lauderdale’s ‘colored beach,’ Renamed to Honor Civil Rights Leaders

By Douglas C. Lyons Fort Lauderdale’s “colored beach” wasn’t exactly a tourist attraction. It was accessible only by boat, leaving black beachgoers at the mercy of an inconvenient ferry service. There were no restrooms, and what the beach lacked in amenities, it made up for in mosquitoes. Still, for the powers-that-be, the “colored beach” was […]

Celebrating the Anniversary of Florida’s Formal Apology to The Groveland Boys Case

  By Douglas C. Lyons It came almost seven decades too late. A year ago today, Florida lawmakers issued a formal apology to the descendants of The Groveland Boys, four young black men who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949. The arrests, forced confessions, their abusive treatment as prisoners — three […]

The Groveland Boys Had a Friend in the Florida NAACP

  “While [Thurgood] Marshall and [Franklin] Williams attempted to put together a preliminary legal strategy, the New York office of the NAACP advised Harry T. Moore in Florida that the Legal Defense Fund would vigorously defend the Groveland Boys and requested that Moore rouse local public support for the case. Moore immediately sprang into action. […]

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s St. Augustine campaign

    By Douglas C. Lyons Fifty years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was struck down by an assassin’s bullet. The world lost a true leader, a leader and an American icon. Let us not forget King’s time in Florida. In 1964, he organized a protest in America’s oldest city — […]

Take the Florida Black History Challenge

Think you know something about black history in Florida. Well, take this quiz, and let’s see what you’ve got under the cap. It’s only 10 questions, and the chance to learn more.  — Douglas C. Lyons, founder of www.blackinfla.com.   1.) Name the first black man to step foot on Florida soil? a.)  Juan Carolos […]

The Making of Gen. Daniel ‘Chappie’ James Jr.

“As a youth Chappie James was told repeatedly, at home and in school, that he would succeed if he were able to drive whites of their negative stereotypes of blacks. He also learned that it was important that he demonstrate personal reliability in supporting the society’s paramount values, like patriotism. Young James also was taught […]

Mary McLeod Bethune’s Legacy to Black Women

  Mary McLeod Bethune made this day a red-letter date in American history for black women. On December 5, 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) as an “organization of organizations” to represent the concerns of Black women, here in America and abroad. The NCNW gave black women the chance to realize their […]

For Those Who Think Their Vote Doesn’t Count

“As racists rewrote Florida’s history as well as its constitution, it was forgotten how well black people in Florida had taken to electoral politics. According to Carter Brown’s study, Florida’s Black Public Officials 1867-1924, nearly 1,000 black people, the great majority of them Florida-born ex-slaves, held office following the Civil War. By profession, they ranged […]

For Blacks, the Florida Territory Becomes More Hell than Paradise

  “By the 1850s, black people in Florida had to belong to someone or have a white benefactor to vouch or their integrity and obedience. Key West passed an ordinance prohibiting all blacks — slave or free — from walking the streets after dark. The discrimination against free blacks in Key West became so oppressive […]