Beast in Florida
A History of Anti-Black Violence
Publication Year: 2013
A symbolic embodiment of racial violence and hatred, "The Beast" openly prowled the nation between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. The reasons it appeared varied, with psychological, political, and economic dynamics all playing a part, but the outcome was always brutal--if not deadly.
From the bombing of Harriette and Harry T. Moore's home on Christmas Day to Willie James Howard's murder, from the Rosewood massacre to the Newberry Six lynchings, Marvin Dunn offers an encyclopedic catalogue of The Beast's rampages in Florida. Instead of simply taking snapshots of incidents, Dunn provides context for a century's worth of racial violence by examining communities over time. Crucial insights from interviews with descendants of both perpetrators and victims shape this study of Florida’s grim racial history. Rather than pointing fingers and placing blame, The Beast in Florida allows voices and facts to speak for themselves, facilitating a conversation on the ways in which racial violence changed both black and white lives forever.
With this comprehensive and balanced look at racially motivated events, Dunn reveals the Sunshine State's too-often forgotten--or intentionally hidden--past. The result is a panorama of compelling human stories: its emergent dialogue challenges conceptions of what created and maintained The Beast.
Published by: University Press of Florida
Table of Contents
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As Florida emerged from semiwilderness after the Civil War, the irony of the state being a frontier of opportunity unscathed by the war’s ravages could hardly have been lost on its relatively small black population. In place of slavery, abolished only after four years of conflict that left half a million young men...
1: The Contexts of Anti-Black Violence in Florida
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As Florida emerged from virtual wilderness in the era following the Civil War, the belief systems and the rules that governed the society were permeated with racism, the purpose of which was white domination of political, economic, moral, sexual, and social power. This was especially true in rural areas...
2: The Oppression of Florida Blacks
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By the late 1870s in the American South the divine exultation that had come to the freed slaves with the first rush of freedom had been ravaged by the harsh realities of daily survival in an ever oppressive and racist society, particularly in Florida. Barely a decade out of enslavement, most blacks remained...
3: Post-Civil War Anti-Black Violence
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Anti-black violence in Florida was rampant even before the cannons cooled at Appomattox. And of all of the places in Florida where such violence occurred, nowhere did it exceed that which was seen in Jackson County. Established in September 1827 and located just south of the Georgia border, Jackson...
4: Pre-Rosewood Anti-Black Violence: Selected Incidents (1916–1922)
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There is a low-lying hammock on state road 26, the main road into Newberry. Even today at noon on the brightest, hottest August day, it is a dark place, cooler and shadier than the surrounding countryside owing to the large number of massive old oak trees that have towered over the hammock for decades...
5: The Rosewood Massacre (1923)
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The Beast reached Rosewood on New Year’s Day in 1923. At first it had been the usual thing: a black man allegedly raping a white woman followed by the formation of the requisite blood-thirsty mob bent upon chasing down the presumed guilty...
6: Post-Rosewood Incidents (1934–1945)
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Events leading to the Claude Neal lynching near Marianna began on the morning of October 19, 1934, when the badly mutilated body of a young white woman, Lola Cannady, from a sharecropping family was discovered not far from her home. She had gone out on the afternoon before to water the family...
7: Pre-Civil Rights Era Anti-Black Violence: Selected Incidents (1949–1951)
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In 1949 when a black person in Lake County, Florida, pondered the word “cracker,” a flat, tasteless biscuit did not come to mind—Lake County Sheriff Willis V. McCall did. Just at the start of the modern civil-rights movement in Florida, the sensational killing of a black man in the custody of this blustery..
Appendix: Florida Lynching Victims, 1882–1930
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013