Looking for Black History Month resources? Find them on Florida Memory.
African American history in Florida dates back to the first explorers of the early 16th century. Our Black History Month resources page provides links to resources for students and teachers, or anyone who wants to learn more about the prominent role of African Americans in Florida history.
Stop by the lobby of the R.A. Gray Building (500 South Bronough Street) in Tallahassee during the month of February to see our photographic exhibit: “Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee, 1956-1963.”
Presented in recognition of Black History Month, and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the images featured in the exhibit honor only a few of the many events and individuals critical to the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee.
Sit-In at Woolworth’s lunch counter (February 13, 1960)
The above photograph shows the first of several sit-ins held at department stores in downtown Tallahassee. Seated and wearing dark glasses is prominent activist and local Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organizer Patricia Stephens (later Due).
Patricia Stephens (later Due) being arrested by Tallahassee Police (May 30, 1963)
The above photograph was taken on the day Tallahassee Police arrested 260 FAMU students for protesting in front of the segregated Florida Theater.
Merry Christmas Card Day! Have you sent yours yet?
Aldridge family siblings (Cornelia Ward & John West), Tallahassee, 1915
Florida Christmas Greeting, postmarked December 14, 1926
Steinmetz family, 1936
Emmett Kelly, 1955
Emmett Kelly, Ringling Circus clown known for his hobo pantomime character “Weary Willie,” used this photograph, taken by Joe Steinmetz, for his Christmas card in 1955. Lois Duncan, Joe’s daughter, shared with us the story behind this photograph.
Seminole Tribe Chairman James Billie and family, 1985
Looking to pig out this weekend? Do you enjoy your roast pork served with a side of history?
If so, join the Panhandle Archeological Society at Tallahassee (PAST), the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and the Florida State University Archaeological Society on Saturday, December 7, from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM at the Governor Martin House (1001 de Soto Park Drive) in Tallahassee for the 36th Annual Hale Smith Community Pig Out. The event, appropriately held near the Hernando de Soto Winter Encampment Site, will feature food, kid’s activities, and knowledgeable archeologists on hand to serve up roast pork and dish out history related to the site.
Archaeological evidence found near the Governor Martin House suggests that an expedition under the command of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto spent the winter of 1539-40 just east of downtown Tallahassee, in the vicinity of modern-day Myers Park. De Soto and his entourage occupied an Apalachee village known as Anhaica, before Native American warriors drove them from Florida.
According to historical documents, de Soto brought, among other things, a number of pigs on the expedition as a source of food. These pigs, and others introduced to Florida in the 16th century, form the genetic basis of feral populations that inhabit the southeastern U.S. today.
Read up on the history and significance of the de Soto site before you feast: Charles R. Ewen and John H. Hann, Hernando de Soto among the Apalachee: The Archaeology of the First Winter Encampment (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1998).
Polly Parker escaped deportation during the Third Seminole War and laid the foundation for the modern Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Painting of Polly Parker by Robert Butler, Brighton Reservation, 1989
Polly Parker (Emateloye) was captured by the U.S. Army during the Third Seminole War (1855-1858). She was forced aboard the steamship GreyCloud, bound for New Orleans and thence up the Mississippi River to the Indian Territory — the watery route that served as the Seminoles’ Trail of Tears. Parker escaped when the vessel stopped at St. Marks, south of Tallahassee. She then began a 400-mile journey southward to rejoin her people near Lake Okeechobee. Parker survived the perilous trek and her family lives on today in many prominent figures in the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
On December 1, a delegation from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including some of Parker’s descendents, embarked by boat from Egmont Key in Tampa Bay and re-created the voyage to St. Marks. Special events took place on December 2 in St. Marks and in Tallahassee on December 3 to commemorate this important history and encourage greater recognition for the remarkable Polly Parker.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. George Smathers, United States Senator from Florida, commented on the loss of his friend and colleague during his regularly filmed remarks to the people of Florida:
Kennedy and his family spent considerable time in Florida during his presidency, including a visit just days before that fateful day in Dallas. The photographs below captured moments from JFK’s trips to the Sunshine State.
With George Smathers and LeRoy Collins, 1961
With British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, Key West Naval Air Station, March 26, 1961
With Farris Bryant at the Orange Bowl, Miami, January 1, 1963
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