On December 28, 1835, two U.S. Army companies, led by Major Francis L. Dade, suffered a major defeat at the hands of nearly 200 blacks and Seminole Indians.
Tensions were already high as Native Americans and runaway slaves who found a freer life with the Seminoles had become increasingly furious at the U.S. Army’s attempts to forcefully relocate them from Florida to Oklahoma.
The attack took place in what is now Bushnell, Fla., as Dade’s troops were heading out of Tampa to resupply a fort in what is now Ocala.
Of the 110 men under Dade’s command, only three survived. The Dade Massacre escalated tensions and sparked the Second Seminole Indian War, which lasted seven years and involved 10,000 troops at a cost of 1,500 lives and $40 million.
Dade is remembered as a martyr of a military ambush. Several communities, including three counties in Florida, Georgia and Missouri are named after him.
Sources:A Traveler’s Guide to The Civil Rights Movement by Jim Carrier Harcourt 2004, pages 180-181 and Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
Photo Credit: Florida Centennial, Library of Congress
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, Fla., exploded, ending the lives of Moore and his wife of 25 years, Harriette, who died from her wounds a week later.
Moore was the Florida coordinator of the NAACP, crisscrossing the backroads of the Sunshine State in the 1940s to educate and organize black people. Investigating lynchings, registering black voters, writing letters of protest to state officials — all in the face of intense bigotry and personal danger — Moore blazed a trail as a civil rights leader long before the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X or Medgar Evers came to national attention.
“As a boy growing up in Daytona, I was of course familiar with how Mary McLeod Bethune started her school and I knew the mission she felt she was fulfilling. Very often she would come to our church, usually on the fifth Sunday night, and she would talk of her dreams for Negro youth. Often she would sing a solo Always the congregation gave her collection for her work …” — Howard Thurman
“Back in 1982, when the Economist reported that ‘Miami is not a good city in which to be black,’ the local Chamber of Commerce reacted with anger and amazement. But the truth is that Florida, including Miami, seldom if ever has been a good place to be black.”
“In Jacksonville, after the city council in 1901 had passed a bill over the articulated opposition of the Negro community and its two Negro councilmen, colored people angrily stayed off the [street]cars in an attempt to pressure the mayor into vetoing the bill. This boycotting proved futile, as did a similar step by Pensacola Negroes four years later, when they tried to force the city’s streetcar company to lobby against the Avery streetcar-segregation bill, then before the Legislature.”
Source: “The Boycott Movement Against Jim Crow Streetcars in the South, 1900-1906” by August Meier and Elliott Rudwick; The Journal of American History Volume 55, Issue 4 (March 1969) pages 760-761
“I needed a little money to expand my undertaking business. I went to Mr. Roddy Burdine and told him all about it, and asked him to loan me some money. He said I had an honest face, and he loaned me $900 without any security except my word. That’s the kind of friend he was.” — Kelsey L. Pharr
Source: American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-1940
Thanks to President Obama, new attitudes about the Cuban embargo and the growing clout of Cuban millennials, the Cold War policies that kept Americans away from Cuba are changing. Visits to the island nation are now an option, as is the legal purchase of a good Cuban cigar.
Black folk thought so, too. Of course that happened decades before Fidel Castro. In 1939, the Baltimore Afro-American broke an interesting story of racial discrimination. Pan Am Airlines, according to the story, was charging black travelers to Cuba an additional $200. Why? The airline was just doing its part.
Back then, conventional wisdom was to keep Cuba’s hotels as racially segregated as possible. Thus, the airline came up with the not-so-bright idea of charging black travelers more money to discourage them from visiting Cuba. True story!
Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. Bad press and a budding war effort forced Pan-Am to stop the practice. Pan-Am went on to become the first airline to sign non-discrimination contracts with black-owned travel agencies.
Sources:A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Making of Jim Crow by N.D.B. Connolly University of Chicago Press, 2014 p. 111 and “Cuba Welcomes US Tourists, Blames Airline for Jim Crow” Baltimore Afro-American July 13, 1940; and “Pan American Line Boasts of Race Equality” Chicago Defender Feb. 16, 1946