Florida history

State Library of Florida Archive

Buried in last week's historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, that once and for all established that employers cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of their sexual identity or preference, there was a reference to one of the darkest chapters of Florida’s modern history.

The mention came not in the majority opinion that granted the LGBTQ community one of its biggest legal victories of the past few decades, but in the dissent.


Danielle Prieur / WMFE

A pair of bills seeking compensation for descendants of the 1920 Election Day race riots in Ocoee will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Bonnet House
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Near Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens sits on 35 acres between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.  

The land for the house was a wedding gift from Chicago attorney Hugh Taylor Birch to his daughter, Helen Louise Birch, and son-in-law, Frederic Clay Bartlett,  in 1919 - and the house was built in 1920. Bartlett was an artist, who - over the years - decorated and painted the house to make it as colorful and open as possible, with lots of yellow and blue hues, outdoor rooms, and space to display art, shells and flowers.  

Groveland Four Could Be Exonerated Of 70-Year-Old Rape Accusation

Dec 4, 2019

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, want exoneration for the “Groveland Four,” expanding on pardons granted in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet in a prominent case from Florida’s Jim Crow era.

Kim Mas / Vox

More than 60 years ago, a committee was formed in the Florida legislature with the purpose of identifying and removing LGBTQ students and professors on Florida college campuses.

Over the course of a decade, investigators with the Johns Committee - so named because former Florida state lawmaker and governor Charley Johns led it- stalked and interrogated hundreds of suspected gay individuals, leading to the firing or expulsion of at least 200 people from their schools.  

Jose Iglesias / Miami Herald

Maurice A. Ferré, the politician and businessman from an aristocratic Puerto Rican family who is widely regarded as the father of modern-day Miami, has died. He was 84.

Ferre, who had been undergoing treatment for an aggressive spinal cancer for two years, died peacefully and surrounded by family on Thursday at his longtime home in South Coconut Grove.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane that slammed Islamorada was the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record — until Sunday, when Hurricane Dorian tied it in the Bahamas.

On Monday, residents of Islamorada gathered for the annual Labor Day service at the Hurricane Memorial on Upper Matecumbe Key. They were thinking of hurricanes past — and present.

Florida will soon have a new figure in Washington D.C.’s statuary hall. Education advocate and Civil Rights Pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune will have a place among American founders, explorers, inventors and presidents. Bethune’s statue replaces that of Edmund Kirby Smith—a decision approved by the Florida legislature in 2018 and recently agreed to by Gov. Ron DeSantis. But as the changeover looms in D.C., the university that bears her name is fighting for its life.

Researchers say they’re committed to continuing exploration of the grounds surrounding the now-shuttered Dozier School for Boys even after finding mostly tree roots in a recent investigation into 27 “anomalies” experts thought could be unmarked graves.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West built a firehouse in 1908. A few years later, someone planted a mamey tree in the yard alongside it. Now that tree is now getting some special attention.

Alex Vega spent three years early in his career at Key West Firehouse No. 3, the site of that tree. He says the big mamey tree in the yard sometimes produced 30 of the football-shaped fruit and sometimes 300. But it was always shared around.

"Every watch got a bagful — two for you, one for your mother. They would give them out to their family and stuff," he said.

Paul Campbell / History Fort Lauderdale

Through paintings, photos and historical clippings from artist and researchers,  History Fort Lauderdale museum's newest exhibition “Island Imprint: A History of the Caribbean Community in Broward County”  is celebrating South Florida's Caribbean culture and community. 

Groveland Four
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried thanked a group of Plantation students Wednesday for their activism surrounding criminal justice and presented them with a proclamation declaring their "shining example of citizen involvement in government for the people." 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

On Christmas Day, 1921, a mob including members of the KKK killed a Key West man. His gravesite was neglected for nearly a century.

After 97 years, Key West held a memorial service on Saturday for Manuel Cabeza.

Members of his family, including his 99-year-old niece, attended the service, along with a Key West Police honor guard, the Monroe County sheriff and four members of the Key West City Commission.

Manuel Cabeza was a Key Wester who served as a private in World War I.

History Miami

At Bayfront Park in the City of Miami, a 10-foot tall bronze statue stands in honor of Julia Tuttle. She holds oranges in one hand and branches with tiny flowers in the other. 

Tuttle has long been recognized as the “Mother of Miami” — the only woman to found a major city in the United States. The original story, as told by local South Florida historians for decades, says it was her and her alone that founded the City of Miami.

Alexander Gonzalez / WLRN

When he moved to Miami in 2012, Chris Barr was struck by people’s love for Publix supermarkets.

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