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FLORIDA THEMES : AFRICAN AMERICANS

African Americans have been a prominent element in the history and culture of Florida since Estavanico explored Florida with Panfilo de Narvaez, and continued with the establishment of the first free black community in North America (Fort Mose, north of St. Augustine in the 1730s). As a slave state, Florida had plantations that harvested cotton and later, African Americans provided much of the labor for the state’s timber and turpentine industries. After Emancipation in 1863, African-Americans emerged as important Florida leaders in literature, medicine, newspapers, businesses, and education.

The Florida Heritage Collection contains a variety of works which cover some critical issues associated with African Americans in Florida. The civil rights movement forced the issue of desegregation in public services, especially in the school system. A great number of problems resulted from this process, and the struggle contributed to the cultural growth. The presence of the African American element in Florida history has enriched Florida culture, and evidence of this can be seen in many of the works in this collection.

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