First Tallahassee Sit-In (February 13, 1960)

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

On February 13, 1960, Patricia Stephens (later Due), and other local CORE members held the first of several sit-ins at department store lunch counters in downtown Tallahassee.

First Tallahassee civil rights sit-in, February 13, 1960

First Tallahassee civil rights sit-in, February 13, 1960

On February 20, students from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU) held another, larger sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Tallahassee. When they refused to leave, 11 were arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace by engaging in riotous conduct and assembly to the disturbance of the public tranquility.” Several of the students chose “jail over bail” and remained in police custody while their story circulated around the country and garnered additional support for the movement.

In the months and years that followed, additional demonstrations and picketing took place at downtown stores and theaters in Tallahassee and elsewhere in Florida. The participants in these events were the “Foot Soldiers for Change” who worked tirelessly to defeat segregation in the United States.

To learn more, see Glenda Alice Rabby, The Pain and the Promise: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Tallahassee, Florida (University of Georgia Press, 1999).

General Daniel “Chappie” James

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

Long before they shed their blood on the battlefields of Europe and Asia during World War II, African-Americans fought for freedom in conflicts throughout North America. Prior to Executive Order 9981 by President Harry S. Truman in 1948, African-Americans served in segregated units and, with a few notable exceptions, performed largely undesirable work and received little commendation for their service.

General Daniel James Jr., ca. 1975

General Daniel James Jr., ca. 1975

Florida native Daniel “Chappie” James (1920-1978) was one of the pioneers that paved the way for the advancement of black soldiers in the U.S. military. In 1975, he became the first African-American 4-star General in the Air Force.

James, born in Pensacola on February 11, 1920, graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in 1942. The following year he completed flight training at Tuskegee and was commissioned as an Army Air Force pilot in an all-black squadron. During the Korean War, he flew 101 combat missions in P-51 and F-80 aircraft. After the war, in 1957, James graduated from the Air Command and Staff College. He also flew 78 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

General Daniel James Jr. with Florida Governor Reubin Askew, Tallahassee, 1976

General Daniel James Jr. with Florida Governor Reubin Askew, Tallahassee, 1976

James earned numerous honors and awards during his distinguished career, both for military achievement and civic engagement. He died from a heart attack in 1978, just weeks after retiring from the military, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Mary McLeod Bethune Learning Unit

Check out our online learning unit to learn more about educator and civil rights pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune. The unit explores the life and legacy of Bethune, using primary source documents from the collections of the State Library and Archives of Florida. Lesson plans included in the unit are correlated to state and national standards.

Mary McLeod Bethune and girls from her school, Daytona Beach, ca. 1910

Mary McLeod Bethune and girls from her school, Daytona Beach, ca. 1910

Black History Month Webinar

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

Looking for Black History Month resources? Check out our Florida Electronic Library/Florida Memory webinar to learn more about online resources for the study of African-American history and culture in Florida: http://bit.ly/1jAFz5w.

Abraham, Black Seminole war leader and interpreter, ca. 1838

Abraham, Black Seminole war leader and interpreter, ca. 1838

Civil Rights Photo Exhibit

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

Floridians played a prominent role in the long struggle for civil rights. Visit our online photo exhibit to learn more about important events and individuals in the Civil Rights Movement in Florida.

NAACP march on the Capitol, Tallahassee, early 1960s

NAACP march on the Capitol, Tallahassee, early 1960s

 

Twine Photographic Collection

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

Richard Aloysius Twine (1896-1974) photographed the African-American community of Lincolnville, just south of St. Augustine, in the 1920s.

Richard A. Twine, ca. 1925

Richard A. Twine, ca. 1925

Twine, born in St. Augustine on May 11, 1896, had a brief but notable career as a professional photographer in Lincolnville. Founded by freed slaves after the Civil War, Lincolnville’s homes and businesses formed the center of St. Augustine’s black community in the early 20th century.

Emancipation Day Parade, ca. 1925

Emancipation Day Parade, ca. 1925

The Twine home on Kings Ferry Way was damaged by fire and about to be torn down in 1988 when, fortuitously, the demolition crew discovered 103 glass-plate negatives in the attic. The negatives were restored and placed in the custody of the St. Augustine Historical Society. A partnership in the 1990s allowed the Archives to copy Twine’s negatives, and later, make them available on the Florida Memory website.

Demps family outside their home, ca. 1925

Demps family outside their home, ca. 1925

Lincolnville residents played a critical role in the local Civil Rights Movement, particularly as foot soldiers in the sit-ins, wade-ins, and other demonstrations held in the early 1960s. Today, the remaining historic buildings in Lincolnville are part of the Lincolnville Historic District.

Knights of St. Johns, ca. 1925

Knights of St. Johns, ca. 1925

Resources for Black History Month

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.

Mary McLeod Bethune, Daytona Beach, ca. 1904

Mary McLeod Bethune, Daytona Beach, ca. 1904

Civil Rights Exhibit at the State Archives

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)

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)

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.

Alvan S. Harper Photographic Collection

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African American history in Florida.

Nellie Franklin, ca. 1900

Nellie Franklin, ca. 1900

Photographer Alvan S. Harper captured scenes of middle class African Americans in Tallahassee from the 1880s to the 1910s. Portraits such as those taken by Harper provide a small window into Tallahassee’s black community during the indignity of the Jim Crow era.

Many of the photographs in the collection remain unidentified, including two featured in this post. If you have any additional information about images in the Harper Collection, please contact the State Archives of Florida: Archives@DOS.MyFlorida.com.

Woman wearing dress with roses on bodice and holding a fan, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

Some of Harper’s best negatives were lost when his studio was torn down in the 1920s. The negatives had been given to a Tallahassee historian who, because they were dirty, left them on a porch where they were mistaken for trash and taken to the dump.

Man in striped tie and pants, holding newspaper, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

About 2,000 more Harper negatives were found in 1946 in the attic of the house he had owned. A Tallahassee photographer printed 250 negatives and circulated the prints in the community for identification. The negatives were turned over to the State Library, and later transferred to the Florida Photographic Collection after it was founded in 1952.

Contact the Museum of Florida History for more information about the Alvan S. Harper traveling exhibit, part of the museum’s TREX Program.