Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924

Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924

Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924

Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924

Synopsis

A ground-breaking study revealing the magnitude and impact of African American leadership in Florida during the post-Civil War era. This work also includes an extensive biographical directory of more than 600 officeholders, an appendix of officials by political subdivision, and more.

Excerpt

Beginning in 1867 and continuing into the twentieth century, African American men contributed to the South, the state of Florida, and their local communities through service in public office. Their total numbers in Florida may have reached close to 1,000, yet the state's black political leadership has received relatively little attention from historians. Works such as Joe M. Richardson's The Negro in the Reconstruction of Florida, 1865-1877, as well as period histories by William Watson Davis, Jerrell H. Shofner, and Edward C. Williamson, have offered important information and context, but they have not delved deeply into the lives and careers of specific black leaders nor attempted to treat the broader subject over more than a short period of time. The Florida studies that have attempted a broader treatment deal only with the city of Jacksonville and its suburban neighbor, LaVilla.

On the regional and national level, the picture appears no brighter. As Howard Dodson noted in his foreword to Eric Foner's 1993 work, Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction , "Until recently, little was known about black Reconstruction lawmakers." Some readers doubtlessly will be surprised to learn, for example, that Florida's African Americans, in a pattern probably repeated in other southern states, resisted disfranchisement and political exile for a generation or more after the end of Reconstruction. Perhaps a majority of Florida's black officials served after 1876.

Foner's volume represents the most ambitious attempt to date to focus on the individuals who held office. Nonetheless, it adopts a very narrow scope, limiting the meaning of Reconstruction to "a date that varies from state to state and that I define as the election that produced simultaneous Democratic control of both houses of the legislature and the . . .

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