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Old South, New South, or Down South?

Florida and the Modern Civil Rights Movement

Edited by Irvin D. S. Winsboro

Publication Year: 2009

How does a state, tarnished with a racist, violent history, emerge from the modern civil rights movement with a reputation for tolerance and progression? Old South, New South, or Down South?: Florida and the Modern Civil Rights Movement exposes the image, illusion, and reality behind Florida’s hidden story of racial discrimination and violence. By exploring multiple perspectives on racially motivated events, such as black agency, political stonewalling, and racist assaults, this collection of nine essays reconceptualizes the civil rights legacy of the Sunshine State. Its dissection of local, isolated acts of rebellion reveals a strategic, political concealment of the once dominant, often overlooked, old south attitude towards race in Florida.

Published by: West Virginia University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. i-viii

The subject of these essays has long intrigued me. For over twenty years I have explored, taught, and written about Florida’s complex history, and throughout that time the “big question” addressed in this volume has loomed over my collective work: How did a state with such a profoundly racist and violent past emerge in the modern civil rights era with a “moderate” reputation among its one-time Confederate peers? Certainly, Florida’s history...

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Introduction: Image, Illusion, and Reality: Florida and the Modern Civil Rights Movement in Historical Perspective

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pp. 1-21

This book adds insight into the complexities of the modern civil rights movement in Florida. The contributors have produced a stimulating discussion of the prevailing narratives of the Sunshine State’s role and place in civil rights. Echoing a trend in recent literature on the civil rights movement, the authors challenge readers to rethink the traditional periodization of black activism in the Sunshine State...

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The Illusion of Moderation: A Recounting and Reassessing of Florida’s Racial Past

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pp. 22-46

Scholars and laypersons alike have argued that the civil rights movement in Florida was neither as violent nor as attenuated as it was in other states of the Old South. It is also generally accepted that the “Yankee factor” and the leadership of Governor LeRoy Collins (1955–1961) were major factors in the “relatively minor” white resistance to racial integration in the Sunshine State. What most people often overlook, however, is that...

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From Old South to New South, or Was It? : Jacksonville and the Modern Civil Rights Movement in Florida

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pp. 47-67

Behind Florida’s carefully cultivated image of a racially moderate paradise with year-round sunshine, sandy beaches, and scenic palm trees is the reality of its ugly racial heritage. African American residents know that Florida’s history is not quite as pristine and alluring as its beaches and sunny images. In reality, much of the state’s past, like its numerous gated communities today, is hidden from public view...

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Brotherhood of Defiance: The State-Local Relationship in the Desegregation of Lee Country Public Schools, 1954-1969

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pp. 68-86

At the start of the 1970–71 academic year, schools in Lee County, Florida, underwent a historic transformation. Sixteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court had declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, the Lee County School Board finally instituted countywide school desegregation. How Lee County had managed to delay this for so long is a story of local actions with state implications as well...

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Toms and Bombs: The Civil Rights Struggle in Daytona Beach

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pp. 87-112

By the time my wife and I moved to Daytona Beach in 1980, gone were the “white” and “colored” signs and other vestiges of enforced segregation that defined Florida’s race relations during the Jim Crow era. Blacks and whites now attended the same public schools, shared the same restaurants, movie theaters, bathing beaches, and played together in the same municipal parks, playgrounds, and golf courses. Even some residential areas were...

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Planting the Seeds of Racial Equality: Florida’s Independent Black Farmers and the Modern Civil Rights Era

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pp. 113-133

In 1950 Charley Duncan bought a tractor. He paid cash for the machine that he planned to use on the 140-acre farm he owned in Columbia County, Florida, where he produced corn, watermelons, peanuts, and tobacco. The purchase of a tractor was, by itself, nothing unusual; both black and white farmers engaged in a variety of new cultivation practices, hoping to cash in on the mechanized commercial agriculture of the post-World...

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Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Florida’s “Public Mischief” Defense and Virgil Hawkins’s Protracted Legal Struggle for Racial Equality

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pp. 134-154

Scholars have long presumed that Brown v. Board of Education of 1954 and its spin-off, the Brown II decision of 1955, provided the impetus for the modern civil rights struggle in Florida, even though that struggle remained rather muted in comparison to the other states of the Deep South. Yet the historical record reflects a challenge to this premise,...

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“Wait” Has Almost Always Meant “Never”: The Long Road to School Desegregation in Palm Beach County

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pp. 155-175

“‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never,’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lamented in 1963 while exhorting both black civil rights workers and white elected officials to reject repeated demands by southern segregationists to delay the enactment of federally mandated desegregation measures. To those who waited almost two decades for Palm Beach County, Florida...

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The Triumph of Tradition: Haydon Burns’s 1964 Gubernatorial Race and the Myth of Florida’s Moderation

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pp. 176-197

Throughout the twentieth century, Florida’s population steadily increased as northern migrants, retirees, and businesses relocated to the state in pursuit of its mild climate and low taxes. It is often theorized that these new residents, transplanting their northern progressive or moderate views on race relations, helped transform the state socially and create a new civil rights mindset. Yet the question...

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From Old South Experiences to New South Memories: Virginia Key Beach and the Evolution of Civil Rights to Public Space in Miami

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pp. 198-219

Virginia Key Beach is an eighty-two-acre waterfront park on a one thousand-acre barrier island about a mile from the city of Miami. In 1945, a bathing beach for people of African descent was established there by the Dade County Commission in accordance with the Old South Jim Crow segregation laws and practices of the state. The park became an unprecedented gathering spot in South Florida...

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Afterword: Old South, New South, or Down South? : Florida and the Modern Civil Rights Movement: Towards a New Civil Rights History in Florida

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pp. 220-244

...This telling exchange between Milkman Dead and Freddie Guitar in Song of Solomon is rooted in a black perspective of Florida history. Australian Frank Sullivan, who settled in Jacksonville after World War I, learned about Florida from the other side of the color line. Sullivan served in the U.S. Army and married an American woman who convinced him to become a U.S. citizen after the Armistice. According...

Contributors

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pp. 245-246

Index

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pp. 247-260


E-ISBN-13: 9781935978008
E-ISBN-10: 1935978004
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933202440
Print-ISBN-10: 1933202440

Page Count: 276
Publication Year: 2009