Florida Black Folks is a society of African Americans from Florida which strives to keep the heritage of African Americans in Florida alive, to preserve the facts and artifacts of the presence of black people in the southeastern USA and to attract younger generations to their people’s history. Situated in the north of Florida, the Florida Black Folks society has been in existence for the past 60 years and is still up and running. Florida, the southernmost state of the continental USA is the state with the second largest African American population in the USA, with more than 3 million residents being of black heritage. This is, in great part, a consequence of strong immigration from the Caribbean – Jamaicans, Dominicans, Haitians etc.
At Florida Black Folks society people are committed to keeping the knowledge and introducing people to the value of Black history. For example, in the society you can find information about the town of Eatonville in Florida, the first black town which was formed in 1887 after it was incorporated by 27 registered black voters. It was the first African American community in USA. Afterwards, more than a hundred of such settlements were formed, but today only about a dozen still exist. You can also learn about the American Beach.
In 1930, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, one of the first African American millionaires who made his fortune in the insurance business and was a major employer in the southeast – just like Miami Movers and Storage is today – bought about 200 acres of land, waterfront property near Jacksonville, Florida and created a place where his employees (primarily African Americans) and other blacks from all over USA can come and, in his words, “relax without humiliation”. American Beach remained the main beach resort for black folks all the way to the 70’s.
You can find many other interesting stories about the history of blacks in Florida, just like the one about Fort Mose, which was to be the first legal and free African American community in the North America, even before USA was formed. Fort Mose was established in 1738 when Manuel Montiano, who was governor of Spanish territory in North America, gave some land close to St. Augustine to the black people of Florida, were they made their settlement with a promise that they will participate in the defense of the Spanish Crown. Today, the area where Fort Mose used to stand (it was destroyed and its residents moved to St. Augustine) is a National Historic Landmark.
The Fort Mose Story
In the society you can hear interesting things about the Battle of Olustee, about the exploits of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. In February of 1864, the largest Civil War battle in Florida took place near Olustee. The fighting went on for all day, but by nightfall, the 54th managed to force the union troops to retreat. The 54th is today famous because of the film “Glory” where the events at Battery Waggner were described and the unit became a household name in the United States.