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Posts Tagged ‘Lake County’

White Washing History: The Groveland Four

In Florida, Writing on May 8, 2013 at 8:18 am

Groveland four article

I live in a rural county of Florida. Lake County used to be a big deal in the Florida orange industry until several freezes wiped out much of the groves. It has changed quite a bit in the last 27 years since I first visited family here which led me to move here in 1987. It is a beautiful area and before I go any further let me say that I love living here but just as many other counties across our country it has a dark past.

See, Lake County at /one time had a national reputation for violence towards African-Americans. The Ku Klux Klan was very powerful throughout Central Florida and Lake County was no exception, which leads me to the point of this blog post, last night I read in one of the local magazines. This is the kind of magazine that is written for the sole purpose of flattering advertisers. There was an article where a notorious case of racial hatred was mentioned and the slant of the articles sent me into an absolute foaming at the mouth fit. Here’s why.

In 1949 there was a case where four young African- American men were accused of raping a young woman. Two of the suspects had recently returned for military service and had caught the eye of local Klansman and their supporter Sheriff Willis V. McCall. I am not certain form what I have read if McCall was a card-carrying member of the KKK but he was a violent racist man who was eventually suspended from office after winning several reelections over a African American prisoner being kicked to death. McCall resigned in 1973 after many years of alleged corruption and abuses of power. This Groveland Four case became national news for several reasons. Two of the men were in Orlando at the time of the alleged rape and another was 17 miles away. The story itself is long and involved and included the participation of Harry T. Moore a civil rights activist that worked to gain African American voters and Thurgood Marshall, who later became a Untied States Supreme Court Justice. After the arrests of the four men area residents demanded that they be given up immediately to be lynched. The sheriff refused so angry mobs of citizens went to Groveland and shot into homes and set many on fire. The residents of Groveland had been told that they were coming and many were loaded into pick-ups and taken out of town before the rioters arrived.

There are so many facets to this story I could go on and on but the most vile occurrence was when Sherriff Willis V. McCall was transporting two of the defendants from Raiford State Prison back to Lake County for their retrial, the first trial having been overturned by the Florida Supreme Court due to pretrial publicity. Sherriff McCall pulled over on the side of the road and shot the two handcuffed prisoners. McCall says they tried to escape but the one that survived tells a different story, which you can read here.

The article that I read yesterday made McCall sound like he was in some way doing his duty as sheriff to protect these young men. The author sis say that McCall was racially- biased and she did say that the young men were brutally beaten to obtain “confessions” she did not say that the young men were handpicked because they were considered “troublemakers” by Lake County standards because two of them still wore their military uniforms at times and were considered “uppity”. She did not mention the murders of the two young men on the side of the road. She did not mention the razing of Groveland. She mentioned that McCall tried to “placate” and angry mob by arresting the four men. She also mentioned that the KKK stirred up trouble through rallies and demonstrations.  Does a night of terror where people’s homes were set fire and shots were fired qualify for as a rally?

She also suggested reading the book “The Groveland Four: The Saga of a Legal Lynching by author Gary Corsair. I happen to have this book on my bookshelf and it tells a much different story than her article. I purposely have not named the magazine that published this article because the editor and many of the staff are friends and I am going to take this up with him directly.

The reason I get so very angry about such white-washing of the truth, no matter how well-meant is that in my opinion if we do not stick to the facts of our history, no matter how abhorrent, how do we raise our young people so they will be better than ourselves and our forefathers?

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/harrymoore/terror/groveland.html

http://jsr.fsu.edu/2002/Reviews/Zuber.htm

Books to Read:

The Groveland Four: The Sad Saga of a Legal Lynching

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America (P.S.)

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A Baby, A Giant and Magic: Keeping an Eye on Shaquille O’Neal

In Florida, Inspiration, Writing on March 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

 

In 1993 my son was in a hospital in Orlando recovering from a life threatening illness. He was three weeks old. That week was one of the most difficult weeks of my life and we almost lost that wonderful little boy who today is 19 years old. At the end of his stay he was moved from pediatric ICU, one afternoon I was returning from grabbing a cup of coffee and when I entered his room I could not help but notice that there was a seven foot tall black man holding my son. My son who was born a healthy weight of 7 lbs and 12 oz. looked like a premature infant in his huge hands. But what really struck me was the man’s eyes. There was so much tenderness and kindness in their depths that I have never forgotten it.

The man was Shaquille O’Neal who at that time played for the Orlando Magic. I am not a basketball fan, by any means but I have also kept my eye on this guy. What developed from that is a sense of awe. I don’t use that word lightly. I am in awe of Shaq’s personality, intelligence and his ability to keep it real. He does so much good out in the world and he does it through real connections and humor.

Shaq recently bought a home in Lake County, Fl. where I live and rumor had it that in the last election he was going to make a run against out sheriff but then decided not to. What excites me about Shaq living here is not his celebrity but his willingness to make where he lives a better place. He can do so much to encourage our youth.

Shaq may be nerd, a comedian and one of the greatest of the greats on the basketball court but to me he is a man who knows how to walk the walk and talk the talks. He is a man of integrity, honesty and all-around coolness.

BTW Shaq…. Thanks for making a not so great day a very special one 19 years ago. You have no idea what that visit meant to me. You are a giant among men.

My Son Today: TanyaGaryWeddingFrankand Madre

Watch: Shane Koyczan’s ‘To This Day,’ Anti-Bullying Poem

In Inspiration on February 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

I saw this video on Huffington Post this morning. After watching it I read the comments and there was one comment that made me stop and think. This person said that it took 30 years for the Quit Smoking campaign to take hold that we should expect it to take at least that long to see any results from the anti-bullying campaign.
If that is true I find it unacceptable. We don’t have that time. That would be 30 years filled with broken hearts, crushed egos, painful silent tears, suicides and lost children. No.That is unacceptable. Why do we expect children to tolerate hate? .
I live in a county that is struggling with an issue that should not be as much as a firestorm as it has proven to be. Not in the year 2013. A local middle-schooler, Bayli Silberstein, with the support of other kids, parents and teachers is attempting to organize a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). The club would help to address the bullying issues within our school and to support gay students. I our backwards, predominately redneck county this issue has become national news. The ACLU responded by requesting that the Lake County school board allow the club to form. Not surprisingly, the school board’s response was to consider banning extra-curricular programs for all middle schools in the county. This is bullying. To make a child feel unaccepted and unwanted for any reason, is morally wrong. On Sundays when these people stand in church in their self-righteous robes of self-satisfaction do they think of the pain that they cause others by making them feel unwanted? I am sure they do not. Read: Lake County school board meets over gay-straight alliance club
Bullying is wrong and many of us have felt the effects of it and carried it through our entire lives. How many times have we heard, “Oh, they are just being kids” Or “Kids are cruel”? That’s not the real problem, is it? Kids learn their behaviors from the adults around them. Not just parents, but teachers and yes, even school boards.
We don’t have 30 years. Bullying must end now. Sticks and stones do not hurt more than names. I read a statistic that said 77% of kids have been verbally bullied. That means you, your best friend, you brother, your sister or your child were probably bullied. Maybe you were the bully.
We don’t have 30 years.

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