Florida Pride and Shame
If there was one thing I knew growing up, it was that I was Florida. My grandmother worked at Disney. My parents even met while working at Disney. Before that, my lineage in Florida goes back at least four generations. In that time, My great great grandfather Frank Mayes founded the Pensacola Gazette. National Geographic featured my great aunt Luella “Granny” Odlund in 1973, a resident on the Suwannee river. My grandmother told tales of her father, my great grandfather James McLeod. During the Depression, James frequently invited migrant workers to share the dinner table. James, fearing police brutality towards his black neighbors, dissuaded the authorities from entering the other half of segregated Cedar Key. I believe my grandmother’s exact words were “They weren’t fair to black people.” Instead, he took upon himself whatever responsibilities the community needed. As a child, I understood segregation came from a place of prejudice and hate. But it was not until I was an adult that I began to see an expanded picture of what it meant to be a part of Florida, the pride and as well as the shame.