Zora Neale Hurston Festival Kicks Off with a Look Back

 

Zora Neale Hurston

Historic Eatonville, Fla., opens its doors to all visitors and fans of Zora Neale Hurston on Saturday, January 21 with its Back in the Day: Reflections of Historic Eatonville. The event kicks off the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival.

The start time is 6:p.m. at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts on 227 East Kennedy Boulevard. The event consists of an opening reception, gallery talk and features an exhibition of the artifacts and memorabilia from Early Eatonville. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 407 647-3188 or go to the website: ZoraFestival.org

 

 

 

New Deal Housing Not Exactly a Good Deal for Black Property Owners

 

“As in other corners of the country, the Miami Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was responsible for drafting “Security Maps,” which, through property appraisal, determined which communities represented safe investments for FHA financing and other types of lending. HOLC staffers gave every neighborhood in South Florida a letter grade and accompanying color: ‘A’ neighborhoods were coded green, ‘B’ neighborhoods blue, ‘C’  yellow, and ‘D’ red. Each grade of color reflected a range of factors … Far from simply reflecting racial truths, government housing officials created them.”

Source: A World More Concrete: Real Estate and The Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida by N.D.B. Connolly The University of Chicago Press 2014 pages 94-99

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.

Rosewood, Fla. 1923

Imagine the fear 94 years ago on New Years Day when the 200 residents of Rosewood were chased out of their homes by an angry mob of white men who believed that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been attacked by a black man. Many blacks believed the story was a lie to cover up a beatdown the woman received from her white boyfriend.

The facts, of course, never deterred a racist mob. At least six blacks were killed and the mob destroyed the frame houses, churches and a meeting hall that made up Rosewood, located 10 miles east of Cedar Key in rural Levy County.

Rosewood wasn’t the only black community in the 1920s to experience this type of bloodbath. However, it was the only black community that mob violence completely destroyed.

All that’s left are open fields a few bricks, a historic marker  and the house of John Wright, one of the few whites that tried to help black residents during the violence. Fortunately, this historic tragedy was remembered. There was a movie and in 1994, the Florida Legislature approved a bill that Gov. Lawton Chiles signed into law that compensates survivors and their descendants of the massacre.

Source: African American Sites in Florida by Kevin M. McCarthy Pineapple Press, Inc., 2007 p. 134

Photo Credit: Florida State Archives

 

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.

Carlton B. Moore
Carlton B. Moore

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 of Northwest Fort Lauderdale and a smattering of black professionals who come and go through the city’s historic black neighborhood.

To be honest, I don’t recall the exact location or time of Moore’s remarks. I do, however, remember his message: black folk need to support their institutions.

For Moore, the point was easy to make. He grew up in the NAACP, ultimately becoming the president of the Fort Lauderdale chapter and transforming the branch into a vehicle to fight racial discrimination and rebuild communities. Moore knew something about strength in numbers and the power of organizations; he had lived it.

It’s a lesson black America must take into 2017. History teaches us that blacks in Florida, the South and across America survived and thrived in the harshest of times through business leagues, civil rights groups, the church and secret societies. They put their heart, soul, time and money into these organizations to achieve a far greater good. That was the essence of Moore’s message.

We should support our institutions, and others, that support us moving forward.

Editor’s Note: Lyons is the creator of www.blackinfla.com.

Photo Credit: City of Fort Lauderdale

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

Harry T. Moore
Harry T. Moore

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.

To date, no one has been convicted for the crime.

Source: Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America’s First Civil Rights Martyr by Ben Green 2005 The University Press of Florida

A Floridian’s Memory of Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune

“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

 

Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman  Harcourt Brace & Co. 1979 p. 23

Photo Credit: Carl Van Vechten

 

Is Miami a Good Place to Be Black?

downtown_miami_skyline_may_2011“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.”

Source: City of the Future  by T.D. Allman University Press of Florida, 1987 p. 144

Photo Credit: Dan Christensen