Tales You Won’t Hear in Florida Schools – #2

The Wadders

It seems like a good week, what with our illustrious Governor banning woke books and black history in our schools, to recount some Florida tales.

You older folks know, or should know, that Florida was once rigidly segregated and quite slow to comply with desegregation of public schools.  In many Florida cities, neighborhoods tend to be effectively segregated by race, thus if you buy a home in a  predominently white neighborhood, local schools tend to be white and vice versa.  Many Floridians send their kids to private schools via school vouchers which assist and encourage the flight from public schools.

One upon a time, in my life-time, Florida had segregated beaches. Blacks had one beach in Ft. Lauderdale that they could use.  The “beach” was an empty, isolated strip of land with nothing on it and inconvenient to reach.  A developer bought the property leaving black residents with no beach to use.

The county bought them a new beach to use – in the Everglades with no road leading to it.  Protests began in the 1950s as 100 or so black residents began “wading” at “whites only” beaches.  The county closed off parking to get the caravans turned around, Then they closed the beaches entirely.  They built a “blacks only” swimming pool!

Wasn’t till the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 19 64   and a violent attack by police and hundreds of whites on waders and the leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that beaches were finally open to all in Ft. Lauderdale.

There are lots of stories of Florida no one is any longer allowed to learn about.

Over 5,000 lynchings occurred in the United States between the end of the Civil War and the mid 1960s. Eighty five percent of lynchings occurred in the Gallant South.  Florida (not Alabama; not Mississippi) had the highest number of lynchings per capita of it’s black population – between 1880 – 1940 over 200.  Alachua and Marion Counties led the way. The year 1892 was a peak year when 161 African Americans were lynched in America.  That’s one lynching every other day.

And it was not just “lynching”.  It was torturing, castrating, burning alive.  ISIS had nothing on us back in the good old days.

The ideology behind lynching, directly connected with denial of political and social equality, was stated forthrightly by Benjamin Tillman, Governor of South Carolina later a United States Senator: “We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be the equal of the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.”

Americans made postcards of lynchings. At the turn of the 20th century in the United States, lynching was photographic sport. People sent picture postcards of lynchings they had witnessed. The practice was so base, a writer for Time noted in 2000, “Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz but lynching scenes became a burgeoning sub-department of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U. S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails.”  Still the cards were made as souvenirs.  Just under a hundred of the cards can be seen at: https://www.withoutsanctuary.org/pics_02.html

With so many lynchings to choose from let us just pick one.  Rubin Stacy was lynched in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in July 1935. Yes, that Ft. Lauderdale where the kids come for Spring break. Yes, 1935 during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Rubin Stacy was born in Georgia sometime between 1899 and 1907. No one knows for sure. No sense keeping records of negro births. He left Georgia and came to Florida where he heard there would be more opportunity for work which was hard to come by in 1935 for white folks let alone a black man.

But Rubin found no work. He was homeless and starving. In desperation, he knocked on the door of a white woman, Marion Jones, begging for food.  Sometimes the inhabitants would simply leave him some leftovers on the porch.

Instead, she screamed at the sight of a black man at her door. Six Sheriff’s Deputies took Rubin Stacy to jail for having the audacity to knock on the door of a local good white woman begging for food. A mob broke into the jail (how convenient – ever try breaking into a jail?), took Rubin Stacy back to the Marion Jones’ house and hanged him from a tree on her property. And then they took pictures:

In the picture, Rubin Stacy is dead, hanging from the tree. In the background a group of fine citizens hanging around looking on with satisfaction.  And then there are the children.

Take a good look at the little white girl with the angel face, hands crossed in front of her.  She could still be alive, though in her 90s.   She is smiling and wearing her Sunday best.  What is she thinking while surveying this hideously grotesque scene?

Did she take a closer look at the body?  Bring home a souvenir to keep in her room?  Did she poke Rubin’s body with a stick?

She is not the Klan. She is the daughter of ordinary law abiding Southern folk.  Probably a nice church going family.  How is she capable of a smile at the torture and murder of a black man?

Look at the little girl closely and see the face of America’s Ft. Lauderdale not that long ago.  Staring with glee.  Staring with victory in the eyes.  Just an ordinary summer afternoon in Florida.

In these photos and in the face of the little girl is part and parcel of Florida’s history and its great shame.

It is what our Governor wants no one to see or know about.  Woke history.  Not to be mentioned in our high schools or colleges.

Book burner.





About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to Tales You Won’t Hear in Florida Schools – #2

  1. Don Ostertag says:

    This post would be banned in Florida for sure.


  2. beetleypete says:

    I have seen that photo before, and it is just as chilling to view again. As you rightly point out, the ‘onlookers’ make it all the more revolting. It reminds me of German people (and children) laughing as the Jews were marched off to the transport trains.
    I fear it could happen again. Not in Germany this time, but in the USA.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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