Gov. Lawton Chiles Compensates Rosewood Massacre Descendants

  By Douglas C. Lyons Every now and then the state government of Florida does the right thing and acknowledges a historic wrong, sometimes it goes as far as to commemorate that transgression. Such was the case on May 4, 1994. That was the date when the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles signed a $2.1 […]

Florida Schools Surprise with Strong Civil Rights History Standards

    By Douglas C. Lyons Well, well well. The Sunshine State received a passing grade in one educational category that frankly surprised me — civil rights. According to Teaching the Movement 2014, a report put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance, Florida earned a ‘B.’ Congratulations are in order. Florida […]

Remembering the ‘Coalition of Conscience’ March , Tallahassee’s Largest Civil Rights Protest

  By Douglas C. Lyons It all started when two black Florida legislators decided to wait for an audience with the governor. At the time, then–state Sen. Kendrick Meek and Rep. Tony Hill had hoped to talk to then-Gov. Jeb Bush about his executive order to end affirmative action in state government and replace it […]

Let’s Do a Better Job Cherishing Florida’s Black History

  By Douglas C. Lyons I consider myself one of the fortunate ones. I had the chance to celebrate my very own Black History Month moment this February. I wish others could have that same experience. My aunt, Juanita Lark, was the first black graduate of Goshen College, and the school decided to honor her […]

James Weldon Johnson’s Observation on Negro Dialect

“I had read some Negro dialect and heard snatches of it on my journey down from Washington; but here I heard it in all of its fullness and freedom. I was particularly struck by the way it was punctuated by such exclamatory phrases as ‘Lawd a mussy!’ ‘Gwan man!’ ‘Bless my soul!’ ‘Look heath chile!’  […]

Florida’s One-Man Civil-Rights Movement

  As a strategist, Harry T. Moore was ahead of his time. Years before the Civil Rights Movement took hold, the leader of the Florida NAACP State Conference methodically took on brutal racial atrocities, including his most challenging case of the Groveland Boys, largely by himself. Facing Willis V. McCall, a sheriff who made Birmingham’s […]

Remembering a Florida Icon: Butterfly McQueen

By Douglas C. Lyons Yikes! I missed Butterfly McQueen’s birthday. Many others may have forgotten this Florida native, like I did. But, on January 7, 1911, Thelma McQueen was born in Tampa. She would change her name and experience infamy. Her initial career goal was to become a nurse, but a high school teacher thought […]

New Year’s Day Not Good for Rosewood

By Douglas C. Lyons New years always bring changes. For many blacks,  2017 brings a sense of dread with the incoming Trump administration threatening to undo much of the progress made in government under President Barack Obama. Imagine the fear 94 years ago on New Years Day when the 200 residents of Rosewood were chased […]

A New Year’s Resolution for 2017

    By Douglas C. Lyons The late Carlton B. Moore, a civil-rights activist turned city commissioner in Fort Lauderdale, once gave a talk that I’m sure escaped notice. This was no speech before a huge audience that warranted media coverage. This was simply brief remarks to Moore’s core constituents —  a gathering of residents […]

Christmas Day Marks the Death of America’s First Civil Rights Martyr

Who among us has the courage of Harry Tyson Moore, a Florida schoolteacher turned activist who became the first martyr of the Civil Rights Movement? True commitment to a worthy cause comes with a price, a cost Moore paid dearly. At 10:20 p.m. on Christmas Day, 1951, a bomb planted under Moore’s home in Mims, […]