“I learned to drive an automobile during that first summer, a Hupumobile. After two attempts and two failures, I passed the driver’s exam and secured my license. But, I found it next to impossible to keep my mind on the road when I drove. I would drive all around town in first gear, a trail of exhaust following behind. before long my driving became notorious. No one in his right mind would ride with me. When I took burial ceremonies at the cemetery, cars would line up — all of them full to capacity — while my five passenger car stood empty, save for me, the driver.”
“In 1947, wooden shotgun shacks still made up nearly 80 percent of all the homes in [Miami’s] Colored Town. Other kinds of wood construction continued to house black folk through Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.”
“In late 1833, William Pope DuVal resigned as governor of Florida. During his twelve years in office, he had turned a territory at peace into a swamp of injustice, ethnic hatred and smoldering violence. He did not intend to be the one in charge when the chickens came home to roost.”
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 aspirations for social justice and human rights as the organization took on job discrimination, barriers to voting rights and fought for anti-lynching laws. Today, the NCNW consists of roughly 36 national African American women’s organizations and more than 230 community and campus based sections. It’s mission remains to advocate, empower and lead nearly three million women , their families and communities.
Bethune, of course, was a noted educator, founder of Bethune Cookman College, and perhaps the most influential black woman of her time. The NCNW is just one of the many accomplishments that are part of Bethune’s rich legacy.
“Men may concede that public sentiment, and not law, is the cause of the discrimination of which we justly complain and the resultant disabilities under which we labor. If this be so, then such public sentiment needs penal correction, and should be regulated by law. Let it be decidedly understood, by appropriate enactment, that the individual rights, privileges, and immunities of the citizens, irrespective of color, to all facilities afforded by corporations, licensed establishments, common carriers, and institutions supported by the public, are sacred, under the law, and that violations of the same will entail punishment safe and certain. We will then hear no more of a public sentiment that feeds upon the remnants of the rotten dogmas of the past, and seeks a vitality in the exercise of a tyranny both cheap and unmanly.” — Florida Congressman Josiah T. Walls addressing the Civil Rights Act of 1875
“Colored Town stood as an invention of Henry Flagler. Initially white and colored workers lived together on the grounds of Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel during its construction. But once workers completed the project, Flagler bought a separate tract of land on which his colored workers could build their own homes. Black workers bought bought 50-by-150 foot lots of uncleared land from Flagler at a cost of fifty dollars each. Flagler also donated a plot of land to every religious denomination represented among Miami’s colored people. Cobbled together, these lots would make up Colored Town, with Flagler’s railroad tracks on the eastern edge of the black district, serving as the first and longest lasting boundary between colored and white Miami.”
“… demonizing [Josiah] Walls as both a Northerner and a product of miscegenation served a doable purpose. It robbed Florida’s black people of a hero. It sustained whites in their illusion that half-breeds and Yankees caused all that trouble.”
Source:Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State by T.D. Allman Grove Press, 2013 p. 262
To the north stands the Summer Beach resort, a 450-acre complex that includes homes and a Ritz Carlton Hotel, with seven condominium buildings under construction. To the south is the Amelia Island Plantation, a 1,330 acre resort and residential community that is opening a hotel and building two condominium buildings with plans for more single-family homes. Sandwiched between the cranes that hover over the multi-million projects, where home prices range from $200,000 to more than $4 million, is American Beach, a vestige of the segregationist past, a place whose unique character many of its residents want to save.
‘We’re the only remaining African American coastal community in the state,” said Annette M. Myers, president of the American Beach Property Owners Association. “The property owners feel history should be preserved.
Sources: Fernandina Beach Journal: A Black Beach Town Fights to Preserve Its History and The New York Times April 6, 1998
“I was impressed with the fact that everywhere there was a rise in the level of the Negro’s morale. The exodus of Negroes to the North was in full motion; the tremors of the war in Europe were shaking America with increasing intensity; circumstances were combining to put a higher premium on Negro muscle, Negro hands, and Negro brains than ever before; all these forces had a quickening effect that was running through the entire mass of the race.”