Florida is in the center of controversy again, due to the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman a month ago.
This is another example of African Americans being killed without a sense of justice in a state with a horrific record historically on the issue of race.
We like to think, particularly those of us who live in the Sunshine State, that Florida has come a long way from the “Old South” mentality of the past.
But in actual fact, much of the state, north of Palm Beach County, is still perceived as different from South Florida, with an attitude and mentality more like Alabama or Georgia, if not Mississippi! And even South Florida has its ghosts of prejudice and racism!
This is the state that has tried to hide its racial past, both then and even now!
This is the state of Rosewood, a black settlement on the Gulf of Mexico, 140 miles west of Sanford, where the town was destroyed and multiple numbers of blacks were killed by a white mob in 1923, simply on the suspicion that a black man had assaulted a white woman. This was a well hidden story until recent years, when the few survivors were paid compensation for what they went through.
This is the state that in 1934 saw one of the most heinous lynchings of a black man, Claude Neal, in this case in the Florida Panhandle, who was castrated, tortured for hours with tremendous cruelty, and his fingers displayed as souvenirs.
This is the state where a spokesman for the NAACP was killed, along with his wife in 1951, by a bomb exploding under their bed, because they were trying to register voters and get equal wages for black teachers.
This is the state of a lynching by Fort Lauderdale police officers in 1960, and of Miami police killing a motorcyclist in 1979, arrested for speeding, but being handcuffed and beaten with nightsticks until he expired.
In all of the above cases and more, juries found the perpetrators not guilty, or there was no trial at all.
Florida has a lot to answer for, and this Trayvon Martin case may be going down the same path, as George Zimmerman was not questioned by the police at the time; he was not tested for drug use; he was not given medical care for his wounds, which might have explained what really happened a month ago; Treyvon Martin’s body was not identified as more than John Doe for a few days, as the police failed to call the last callers on his cell phone; and the police department now seems to be out to trash Trayvon Martin for his youthful shortcomings, rather than look at what George Zimmerman did against the statements of the 911 contact who told him to stop interfering and leave it to the police to investigate the purpose of Trayvon Martin being in the gated community in Sanford.
Florida will take a long time, if ever, to recover from the damage done to its reputation by yet another racial bias case, nearly as heinous as its long disgraceful racial history, as outlined above!