“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 […]

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 […]

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 — […]

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 […]

Welcome to Florida’s Most Inaccessible Historic Site

By Douglas C. Lyons SUMATRA — Florida’s “Negro Fort” isn’t likely to jump off the pages of any slick travel brochure. For a state that prides itself on tourism, this historic landmark is pretty much a forgotten, relic, lost to both isolation and general ignorance. Today, the remains of the old  ‘Negro Fort’  can be […]

Florida’s ‘Grown Folks’ Black History Month Tour

Third in a series of Florida “Black” Historic Marker Destinations By Douglas C. Lyons SAINT AUGUSTINE — The city’s Lincolnville neighborhood should be a ‘must’ stop on every visitors’ trip to America’s oldest city. It’s a picturesque section of town, located just south of the famed historic district. The fact that it is also Saint […]

A Moment in ‘Future’ Florida History

By Douglas C. Lyons Wait! What? Gov. Rick Scott now wants the state Clemency Board to rewrite rules for restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time and repaid their debt to society. Where was the governor’s zeal before a federal judge forced his hand? Before U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that […]

Remembering a Florida Power Couple on Valentine’s Day

    By Douglas C. Lyons Here’s some Florida Black History that is appropriate to Valentine’s Day. It’s a love connection of some historic significance: the marriage of Abraham Lincoln Lewis and Mary Sammis. It was a very big deal in our state’s history. Lewis was born in 1865 and would grow up to become […]

Third Stop on the Florida Black Historic Marker Tour: Mizell-Johnson State Park

By Douglas C. Lyons DANIA BEACH — Once a symbol of racial stigma and separation, this iconic stretch of Florida beachfront is now the only state park to be named after African Americans. Welcome to Florida’s Mizell-Johnson State Park. Fort Lauderdale’s one-time “colored beach” wasn’t exactly a tourist attraction. Thanks to racial segregation, the better-known […]

Another Must Read for Any Serious Fan of Florida History

By Douglas C. Lyons A few years back during my stint as an editorial writer covering the Florida Legislature, a state senator and I were discussing black politics in the state. The senator, then a member of Miami-Dade County delegation, had a pretty grim assessment about black Floridians living in the Panhandle region. “Black folk […]