for LEGACY  *  for TRUTH



  • Blacks and Loyalist joined forces to resist repressive restrictions on freed slaves.  The Lincoln Brotherhood, Baptist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Pastors endured great challenge as they formed alliances that led to Black occupancy of key legislative and statewide offices.

  • Two years after the Civil War 14 freedman, former slaves, were nominated on the Republican slates in city elections from the east to west of what is now called North Florida counties.

  • With a population of 154,000 people, 47% were Black. Leaders emerged from three primary groups:  Northern Veterans assigned to the south; Ideological backers of Presiding Elder Charles H. Pearce, of the AME Church who challenged the status quo; and ideological Baptist Church known for peaceful accommodation and mediated change.

  • The first Republican Convention was held in Tallahassee, FL in July of 1887.  Of the 82 delegates that assembled there, 50 were Black.

  • The first Black Official in the State was John Pope, a former member of the 3rd Military Division.  He appointed two whites and 1 Black to the Board of Voter Registration. 

  • 1875-1889, John E. Lee, Florida House, 1981-1882, Senate. Admitted to Florida Bar in 1873 and served also as municipal judge, minister, collector of customs and internal revenue.  Born in Philadelphia; a graduate of Howard University Law School (1873).  Jacksonville, Florida.

  • The informal militia like arm of the Democratic Party (the Klu Klux Klan) sought to infiltrate the Republican Party in order to roll back changes that permitted Blacks to serve in the capacity of sheriffs, judges, registrars for voters.  Life became extremely dangerous for Black Republican leaders, some of which were murdered.

  • 1950 Thomas E. Lawson was appointed as the 1st African-American judge in the south (Miami) Reconstruction.

  • 1983 Leander J. Shaw, Jr., was  appointed to the Florida Supreme Court as the 1st African American to a two year term that continued after retention by statewide vote. He became the 1st African American Chief Justice of the State of Florida

  • Since 2000, Republican Governors, Jeb Bush and Charlie Christ appointed record numbers of African Americans as firsts to judgeships at every level throughout the Florida:  - 1998, the 1st African American female Supreme Court Justice, Peggy Quince, was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush; -  1999, Hubert L. Grimes; 1st African American appointed as 7th Circuit Court Judge; - 1999,  Thomas E. Stringer, Sr. appointed to 2d District Court of Appeals; - 2000, Marva L. Crenshaw. 1st African-American woman appointed to the 13th Judicial Circuit; - 2000, Sandra Edwards-Stephens, 1st African American appointed to 5th Circuit Court; - 2000, Karla Foreman, 1st African American appointed to serve as judge in Polk County; -   2005, Joyce H. Williams, 1st African American appointed to Escambia County Court in the 1st Judicial Circuit; - 2009 Judge Marva L. Crenshaw, 2d Dist Ct of Appeals; - 2009, James E.C. Perry appointed to Supreme Court; 2000 appointed 1st 18th Circuit African-American judge; - 2009, Nikki Ann Clark, appointed to 2nd District Court of Appeals; - Kathy Garner, 1st African American appointed as judge in Gadsden County.  These are celebrated landmark firsts, but even greater number of appointments of African Americans to executive, judicial and legislative offices also occurred.

  • 2002 - For the first time in history, Black Republicans held the Lieutenant Governor position in two states at the same time, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (MD) and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Bradley (OH); six African Americans were elected to state-wide office.

  • 2010 - Governor Scott selects Jennifer Carroll as Lieutenant Governor making her the first African American Republican to be a major party nominee and statewide election.




  • One source (Heritage Village) reports the first African American family to settle in lower Pinellas County was Anna Germain and John Donaldson in 1868.

  • Pinellas was occupied by indigenous Native Americans, fugitive slaves that intermarried with Creed and Seminole Indians; Spanish explorers; transient Cuban fishing camps; and settlers, explorers and pioneer homesteaders.

  • Three hundred eighty-four (384) years after the episodes of great tyranny against the Indians was conducted by Panfilo de Navarez,  the first Spanish explorer to arrive on the shores of Florida in 1528, Pinellas County separated from Hillsborough County (1912).

  • In 1868, Governor Harrison Reed chose Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs (1827 - 1879) as the 1st African American to serve on the Florida Cabinet.  Gibbs also served as the superintendant for public schools and was instrumental in developing Florida's first public school system.

  • In 1910 Bahamian residents and Greeks support the industry at the sponge docks.

  • Before the Civil War began approximately fifty (50) families resided on the peninsula.

  • In 1964 James B. Sanderlin sued Pinellas County on behalf of five African-American families challenging Florida's dual system of public school education.  (No true success was reached until July 3, 1971).

  • In 1965 a landmark case was filed on behalf of the courageous 12 (African-American police officers), against the City of St. Petersburg Police Department. for discriminatory activity and unfair working conditions that included restriction to assignment only in minority neighborhoods based on their race.

A number of on-line sources, books and articles were utilized in completion of these historical summarie.  Should you notice inaccuracies, please feel free to enhance the integrity of this site by sending us a notice at psbrcfl@yahoo.com.  Of note the following provided unique information that was either not readily available elsewhere or consolidated for ease of chronicling.


Brown, Jr., Canton, Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924 (timeline excerpts).

Kebreau, Frantz Emmanuel, Stolen History, Vol. 1, Edition 2, pp.72-74  (Kebreau, 2011)

Images of Florida's Black History, https://www.floridamemory.com/ photographiccollection/photo_exhibits/black_history (accessed 02/17/2015).

Pinellas County African History Project, pinellascounty.org/ faahc/default.htm

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