Images of Florida's Black History

Here are just a few of the many images depicting the history of African Americans in Florida.

Plan of the land between Fort Mossy (Mose) and Saint Augustine

Image Number: RC12824

Established north of St. Augustine in the 1730s, Fort Mose was the first free black community in North America.

Map created between 1765 and 1775.

Old slave quarters at historic Kingsley Plantation site: Fort George Island, Florida

Image Number: PR14332

Photographed in July 1982. See "Images of the Zephaniah and Anna Kingsley Plantation" for more photographs.

Portraits of six soldiers of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers

Image Number: N039653

The Battle of Olustee was fought east of Lake City was the largest Civil War battle in Florida. The Confederates stopped the Union invasion of the interior. For the Federals, the casualty percentage at Olustee was one of the highest of the entire war.

The rearguard action of the 54th Regiment, along with the 35th United States Colored Troops, allowed the Union army to retreat to Jacksonville.

Portrait of Jonathan C. Gibbs

Image Number: RC02889

Served November 6, 1868 to January 17, 1873, as Secretary of State. Served January 23, 1873, to his death on August 14, 1874 as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Photographed between 1868 and 1874.

Joseph E. Lee: Jacksonville, Florida

Image Number: RC11971

Born in Philadelphia. He graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in the early 1860s and graduated from Howard University in law, 1873. He was admitted to the Florida bar that year and was one of the first blacks to practice in Florida.

During his lifetime he was a municipal judge, Minister, collector of customs and internal revenue. He was a member of the Florida House from 1875-1880 and the Florida Senate from 1881-82.

Engraved portrait of Timothy Thomas Fortune (ca. 1891)

Image Number: RC10877

Accompanying note: Born to slave parents, Sarah Jane & Emanuel Fortune, Oct. 3, 1856.

Made himself useful in the office of the Marianna Courier after the war.

After family moved to Jax., worked in composing room of the Jax. Courier then The Union. Read more »

Portrait of Reverend James Page: Tallahassee, Florida (not after 1883)

Image Number: RC13794

First ordained black minister in Florida. First pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

Came to Leon County as the slave of John Parkhill from Richmond, Va. Was a gardener, carriage driver as well as a body servant to his owner. After Page was ordained, Parkhill gave him land for the Bel Air Church and a horse and buggy were maintained at the Parkhill stables for his use. Read more »

Judge James Dean: Monroe County, Florida

Image Number: PR14947

Having graduated first in his class from Howard Law School he was elected Monroe County judge over two white candidates in 1888. (Dean was said to be the first black county judge elected after reconstruction in Florida.)

Governor Francis P. Fleming removed him from office in 1889 for marrying a black woman and a white man (although the groom said he was mulatto).

In 2002 Governor Jeb Bush reinstated his judgeship. Read more »

Former slave Bishop Abram Grant, D.D. and wife Florida Grant (ca.1891)

Image Number: N033744

Grant was born on August 25, 1848, the slave of Frank Rollison.

He was elected the 19th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on May 19, 1888, and ordained on May 24. Read more »

Florida State Normal and Industrial School class of 1904 portrait: Tallahassee, Florida

Image Number: RC02520

Later became the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

Robert William Butler, John Adams Cromartie, Arthur Rudolph Grant, Rufus Jason Hawkins, Rosa Belle Lee, Sara Grace Moore, Winifred Leone Perry, Walter Carolus Smith, Margaret Guinervere Wilkins, Margaret Adelle Yellowhair (2nd from right, front row), Walter Theodore Young.

Woman with a fan made of feathers

Image Number: HA00288

Photographed in Tallahassee, Florida between 1885 and 1910 by Alvan S. Harper. See more images from the Harper Collection.

Eartha M.M. White and her mother Clara White: Jacksonville, Florida (1910)

Image Number: PR00852

Born in Jacksonville, the 13th child of a former slave, Eartha Mary Magdalene White attended schools in Florida and New York. An educator and publisher, she established the Clara White Mission in honor of her mother during the Depression in the 1930s. She also ran a prison mission and donated property for community projects, including the first park for black children.

In 1967 she began the Eartha M.M. White Nursing Home, which grew into the area's largest employer of blacks. She was a Women's Hall of Fame inductee 1986.

Robert Hungerford Normal and Industrial School, Booker T. Washington Hall (191-)

Image Number: PR02884

This is a building in the all black town of Eatonville. Incorporated in 1887, Eatonville is one of the oldest of the black towns founded after the Emancipation Proclamation still in existence.

Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute during meal preparation: Daytona Beach, Florida (1912?)

Image Number: PR00796

Mary McLeod Bethune is third from left. Possibly taken inside the original Faith Hall of the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls.

Aunt Aggie's bone yard: Lake City, Florida (ca.1915)

Image Number: RC06315

Aunt Aggie Jones, a former slave, on the right with a visitor. She maintained a garden, famous between 1900 an 1918, with trellises, gateways and arches of animal bones.

She charged no admission but usually had flowers and vegetables for sale.

Advertisement for Bill Pickett movie

Image Number: PR07392a

Poster for a movie called "The Bull-Dogger". A Norman Studios production filmed in Jacksonville, Florida, ca. 1920.

Self-portrait of Richard A. Twine (between 1922 and 1927)

Image Number: LV002

Richard Aloysius Twine, born in St. Augustine on May 11, 1896, had a brief but notable career as a professional photographer in Lincolnville, Florida. Lincolnville was the center of the black business and residential community in St. Augustine during the first few decades of the 20th century.

See more images from the Richard A. Twine Collection.

Portrait of blues clarinet player Raymond Sheppard holding a trumpet: Pensacola, Florida (between 1930 and 1949)

Image Number: FP83199b

Gabriel Brown playing guitar as Rochelle French and Zora Neale Hurston listen: Eatonville, Florida

Image Number: FA0514

L to R: Hurston, French, Brown.

Hurston worked for the WPA, collecting folklife and folklore from Floridians throughout the state. She is pictured here collecting music from French and Brown.

Photographed in June 1935.

Former slave Charity Stewart: Jefferson County, Florida (1937)

Image Number: RC02016

Charity Stewart was born in 1844. During the Civil War she was hidden in the swamps of Jefferson County to make soap for the soldiers.

After freedom, she returned to her former owners home where she stayed until they died. For many years she lived alone in an old log house in Jefferson County. She was 93 when this photo was taken in 1937.

George Carson: Jefferson County, Florida (1937)

Image Number: RC02019

Former slave, George Carson, standing by the house in which he lived after coming to Florida in 1875.

Four boys dancing in front of the Hemingway residence in Key West (1939)

Image Number: N045541

Portrait of Miami police officer John Milledge

Image Number: PR20204

Born on May 6, 1898 in Bamberg, South Carolina. In 1925, John, 27, married Edna Johnson, 17, of Denmark and the couple moved to Miami.

He was involved in Civil Defense activities in the black community during World War II which led to his being named one of the five original black officers sworn into the Miami Police Department on September 1, 1944.

Virgil Darnell Hawkins

Image Number: RC13783

Virgil Hawkins graduated from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1930, and returned to Daytona to become a teacher and principal. He later became public relations director for Bethune-Cookman College.

In 1946 Hawkins and five other African-Americans applied for admission to professional schools at the University of Florida in Gainesville. They were denied on the basis of race, and the NAACP filed a lawsuit. Bethune-Cookman was told that loans to the institution would not be renewed unless Hawkins was fired.

Woman by sign blown down during hurricane: Virginia Beach, Florida (1950)

Image Number: RC13705

Virginia Beach is off the coast of Miami in Dade County.

Coach Jake Gaither in the locker room with his FAMU football team: Tallahassee, Florida

Image Number: C018793

Coach Gaither stands to the middle right, wearing all white. Photographed in December 1953.

Reverend C. K. Steele at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church: Tallahassee, Florida (1957)

Image Number: RC12436

Photographed on January 3, 1957.

Accompanying note: "Rev. Charles K. Steele with the 4' cross that was burned at his church, at 224 north Boulevard St., at about 9:30 PM on January 2, 1957. Most likely brought on by the front of the bus riding demonstrations the week before."

Segregationists and black demonstrators at a "white only" beach: Saindt Augustine, Florida (1964)

Image Number: RC17740

Photographed on June 25, 1964 in Saint Augustine, Florida.

Swim team at Robinson Trueblood swimming pool: Tallahassee, Florida

Image Number: N047231

Robinson Trueblood Swimming Pool on Dade Street was built by the city in response to wade-ins by blacks at all white pools. It was the only pool where blacks could swim and train as lifeguards.

The first swim team included (standing, L-R) Roy Beard, Eddie Graham, Edward Holifield, Bishop Holifield...

Sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter: Tallahassee, Florida

Image Number: RC03283

The white student reading at the counter is Bobby Armstrong and at the far right is reporter George Thurston.

Photographed on March 13, 1960.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett poses with his family: Tallahassee, Florida (1975)

Image Number: RC11873

Accompanying note: "Black Justice with Family--Florida's first black Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett poses with his family after they helped Hatchett on with his ceremonial robes prior to his taking the bench Tuesday.

Air Force General Daniel "Chappie" James and Florida Governor Reubin Askew (1976)

Image Number: PR00805

General James was being honored for his accomplishments by the Florida legislature. Photographed on April 15, 1976.

In 1975, General James became the first African American 4 star General in the Air Force.

Representative Carrie Meek (1980)

Image Number: N035226

Representative Meek wore this prophetic t-shirt in the House chamber. She was later elected to the Senate and then to the U.S. Congress. Meek was the first African-American women to be elected to the Florida senate. She was a 1992 Florida Women's Hall of Fame inductee.