African-Americans in Florida African-Americans in Florida: 18th Century

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African-Americans in Florida

African-Americans in Florida: 18th Century

  • 1738: The Spanish established Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose), the first free African community in America, to defend against the British.

  • Approximately 100 Africans lived at Fort Mose, forming more than 20 households.

  •  In 1728, helping to defend the Northern Florida Frontier from English and Native American raids, the Black Militia gained respect and honor.

  • 1739: When the largest slave uprising in the history of North America took place near Charleston, SC, the Spanish were blamed .

  • 1740: The British attacked St. Augustine under General George Oglethorpe. Fort Mose was captured.

1752: Spaniards rebuilt Fort Mose.

  • 1752: Spaniards rebuilt Fort Mose.

  • 1784: When the British evacuated Florida, Spanish colonists came pouring in.

  • Escaped slaves came, trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters could not reach them.

  • 1787: More than half of the plantations in Florida had fewer than four slaves.

Black Seminoles

  • Runaway slaves took shelter with the Seminoles

  • Sometimes called Maroons, the ex-slaves developed a distinct culture, but adopted Seminole ways of life and clothing

  • They had a patron-client relationship with Seminoles with whom they raided slave plantations and recruited more runaway slaves to Florida

African-Americans in Florida: 19th Century

  • 1821-45: Territorial status: white Floridians were concentrating on developing the territory and gaining statehood.

  • Florida’s population had reached 55,000 people, with African American slaves making up almost one-half of the population.

  • 1821: Andrew Jackson Allen, one of the earliest performers in America, sang a "Negro dialect" song on the Pensacola stage in blackface.

African-Americans in Florida: 19th Century

  • 1845: Florida entered the Union as a slave state, balancing the free state status of Iowa

  • 1851: Steven Foster's song, "Old Folks at Home," glorifying plantation life, was written. It was adopted as the official state song by the Florida state legislature in 1935.

 The Civil War: 1861-65

  • 1861: The independent "nation of Florida" withdrew from the American Union.

  • 1861: In Pensacola the Army of the Confederate States of America took Ft. Pickens.

  • Florida provided an estimated 15,000 troops and significant amounts of supplies— including salt, beef, pork, and cotton—to the Confederacy, but more than 2,000 Floridians, both African American and white, joined the Union army.

  • Key West and Fort Meyers remained under Union control throughout the war.

The Abolition of Slavery

  • 1803: Denmark abolishes the slave trade.

  • 1807: Britain abolishes the slave trade.

  • 1817: France abolishes the slave trade.

  • 1818: Holland abolishes the slave trade.

  • 1820: Spain abolishes the slave trade

  • 1824: Sweden abolishes the slave trade.

  • 1833: Slavery itself is finally abolished in the British colonies.

  • 1833: Slavery is abolished in the West Indies.

  • 1834: Slavery ends in the Bahaman Islands.

  • 1835: On June 25, Queen Maria Cristina abolished the slave trade to Spanish colonies.

  • 1848: Slavery is abolished in the French colonies.

  • 1863: African-Americans in Union-occupied areas became free citizens on New Year's Day with the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • 1863: Slavery is abolished in the Dutch colonies.

  • 1873: Slavery is abolished in the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico.

  • 1880: Slavery is abolished in Cuba.

Reconstruction: 1868-77

  • Decline of Florida’s plantation economy.

  • 1870: Josiah T. Walls served as a state representative and senator and was Florida's first African-American in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Jonathan Gibbs filled the office of Secretary of State while fellow African-Americans throughout the state served as members of city councils.

  • 1876: A School for African Americans was built in Tallahassee.

  • 1877: Reconstruction ended and federal troops left

  • Jim Crow Laws limited the rights and freedoms exercised by African-Americans.

19th C. Development

  • 1882: The cigar industry in Tampa, Florida created a unique, multicultural, multiracial urban area. Afro-Cubans, Cuban-born whites and white political exiles from Spain immigrated to work in the cigar factories.

  • 1887: Eatonville was the first black incorporated municipality in Florida.

  • African American laborers built Florida’s railroads and roads, tapped the turpentine and farmed the sugar-cane fields in the rapidly growing state.

Although northern capital financed the railroads, it was the labor of African-Americans that actually built them and kept the engines running. Bahamian blacks provided the heavy labor for clearing and grading of Henry Flagler’s extension of the Florida East Coast Railway across the Florida Keys.

20th Century

  • Both agriculture and tourism, before air-conditioning was commonplace, needed workers during the winter.

  • Around 1890 blacks from the Bahamas began arriving in Florida’s lower east coast for seasonal agricultural work.

  • Between 1900 and 1920, 10,000 to 12,000–about one-fifth of the Bahamian population–came to Florida.

  • By 1920 the foreign-born made up a quarter of Miami’s population; Bahamian blacks comprised 16% of the city’s entire population.

James Weldon Johnson 1871-1938

  • Born in Jacksonville, FL

  • Author, poet, Civil Rights activist

    • Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man –1912
    • The Book of American Negro Poetry – 1922
    • Lift Every Voice and Sing” – the Negro National Anthem
  • First African American accepted to the Florida bar

  • Prominent in Harlem Renaissance

  • One of the first African-American professors at New York University

Racial Tensions 1920s and 1930s

  • Following World War I, Florida, experienced heightened racial tensions and anti-immigrant sentiments that led to lynchings and racial persecution.

  • An election in 1920 in Ocoee in Orange County ended in a race riot and deaths.

  • In 1923, the entire African-American town of Rosewood was set fire and residents killed by a white mob.

Mary McLeod Bethune 1875-1955

  • Born to former slaves in South Carolina

  • After graduating from college and marrying, she founded a school for girls in Daytona Beach, which later merged with a boys school to become Bethune-Cookman College

  • As a businesswoman, she was involved in insurance and housing development

  • 1932: founded the National Council of Negro Women

  • 1936: appointed by President Roosevelt as to serve as a director in the National Youth Administration and as special assistant to the Secretary of War during WWII

Augusta Savage 1892-1962

  • Born in Green Cove Springs, FL

  • Sculptor

  • Educator: Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts, Harlem. Students included: Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, and Gwendolyn Knight.

  • Another student was the sociologist Kenneth B. Clark, crucial to Brown vs. Board of Education case.

Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960

  • Anthropologist, folklorist, novelist and playwright

    • Mules and Men, 1935
    • Tell My Horse, 1937
    • Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937
  • Grew up in Eatonville, FL

  • First African-American graduate of Barnard College (Columbia U)

  • Prominent in Harlem Renaissance

World War II

  • World War II was the last conflict to countenance segregated military units.

  • Florida in World War II became almost one big military post with 172 installations.

  • African-Americans from less segregated regions of the U.S. faced typical Jim Crow rules while on duty in Florida.

  • German prisoners of war could use facilities from which American blacks were banned.

  • After the war, famous athletes, such as baseball’s Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron, encountered the same racial restrictions during spring training sessions in Florida.

Civil Rights

  • African-Americans began a voter registration campaign, but change was resisted violently.

  • On Christmas Eve, 1950, Harry T. Moore, state leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and his wife were killed by a bomb beneath their bed because of his voter-registration activities.

  • By the early 1960s blacks in Florida cities joined others throughout the south to protest segregation.

  • In 1963 and 1964 Martin Luther King organized demonstrations in St. Augustine, then celebrating its 400th anniversary of founding.

Civil Rights

  • 1964: Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • 1965: The Voting Rights Act and the Supreme Court’s "one-man-one vote" ruling and related decisions brought externally imposed change to Florida’s political and racial life.

  • Although Brown vs, Board of Education negated the separate but equal doctrine in 1954, Florida schools did not desegregate until the late 1960s.

  • Following the civil-rights legislation and court actions of the 1960s, African-Americans once again returned to elected positions.

  • 1968 : the first African-American was elected to the Florida Legislature since Reconstruction.

  • 1992 : the first African-Americans since Reconstruction were elected to represent Florida in the U.S. Congress.

The Highwaymen

  • Group of African-American landscape painters who emerged in the 1950s in Fort Pierce led by Alfred Hair and Harold Newton

  • Denied access to art galleries, they sold their paintings from the trunks of their cars

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