A History of Central Florida, Episode 42: Jim Crow Signs

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Title

A History of Central Florida, Episode 42: Jim Crow Signs

Alternative Title

Jim Crow Signs Podcast

Subject

Podcasts
Documentaries
Eatonville (Fla.)
African Americans--Florida--Sanford
Sanford (Fla.)
African Americans--Segregation--Florida
Desegregation

Description

Episode 42 of A History of Central Florida podcasts: Jim Crow Signs. RICHES Podcast Documentaries are short form narrative documentaries that explore Central Florida history and are locally produced. These podcasts can involve the participation or cooperation of local area partners.

Episode 42 features a discussion of racial segregation signs used in the Jim Crow South, which are housed at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Florida. This podcast also includes interviews with Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright of Seminole State College and Dr. Julian C. Chambliss of Rollins College.

Table Of Contents

0:00:00 Introduction
0:01:52 The Jim Crow South
0:02:35 Origins of racial segregation
0:04:24 Origins of “Jim Crow”
0:05:08 Segregation in practice
0:07:07 African-American communities and business districts
0:09:09 Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka and desegregation
0:11:12 Desegregating schools
0:11:59 African-American communities post-segregation
0:14:58 Conclusion
0:15:21 Credits

Creator

Stapleton, Kevin

Source

Original 15-minute and 48-second podcast by Kevin Stapleton, 2015: RICHES Podcast Documentaries, Orlando, Florida. http://youtu.be/wvzC9ergWHg.

Date Created

ca. 2015-03-30

Date Copyrighted

2015-03-30

Date Issued

2015-03-30

Contributor

Stapleton, Kevin
Wright, Stephen Caldwell
Chambliss, Julian
French, Scot
Cassanello, Robert A.
Ford, Chip
Clarke, Bob
Gibson, Ella
Hazen, Kendra
Kelley, Katie
Velásquez, Daniel

Is Part Of

RICHES Podcast Documentaries, Orlando, Florida.
A History of Central Florida Collection, RICHES Podcast Documentaries Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.

Requires

Application software, such as Java

Format

application/website

Extent

75.1 MB
160 KB

Medium

15-minute and 48-second podcast
9-page digital transcript

Language

eng

Type

Moving Image

Coverage

Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, Florida
Hannibal Square, Winter Park, Florida
Goldsboro, Sanford, Florida
Eatonville, Orlando, Florida
Parramore, Orlando, Florida
Derns Elementary School, Orange County, Florida
Durrance Elementary School, Orlando, Florida

Accrual Method

Item Creation

Mediator

History Teacher
Civics/Government Teacher
Economics Teacher
Geography Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Kevin Stapleton and published by RICHES of Central Florida.

Contributing Project

Curator

Raffel, Sara

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

Colburn, David R., and Jane Landers. The African American Heritage of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995.
Borman, Kathryn M., and Sherman Dorn. Education Reform in Florida Diversity and Equity in Public Policy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Transcript

A History of

Central Florida

Presented By

RICHES

OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL

HISTORY CENTER

Smart. Surprising. Fun.

A History of

Central Florida

RICHES

OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

PODCAST

DOCUMENTARIES

Stapleton
Thank you for downloading this episode of A History of Central Florida podcast. This is the podcast where we explore Central Florida’s history through the artifacts found in local museums and historical societies. This series is brought to you by RICHES, the Regional Initiative to Collect the History, Experiences, and Stories of Central Florida, and the Orange County Regional History Center.

ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL

HISTORY CENTER

Smart. Surprising. Fun.

Stapleton
I am Kevin Stapleton, and I will be your host for this episode titled, “Jim Crow Signs.”

Episode 42

Jim Crow Signs

WHITE

ONLY

Stapleton 
As Central Florida grew in the late 19th century, urban centers like Orlando and Sanford, as well as smaller communities in the region, became racially segregated. Segregation was initially and tacitly supported by most white residents, and soon became the official policy supported by the state government, cities, and local communities in Florida and the rest of the South. In this episode, we will examine the artifacts of racial segregation in Orlando.

WHITE ENTRANCE

CIVIL RIGHTS

Stapleton
Signs denoting separate places for white and black residents had its origins in the late 19th century, as a way to remind African Americans of their second-class status.

COLORED ENTRANCE

Stapleton
The same governments and legislatures—that only decades later granted citizenship and equal rights to blacks after slavery and the [American] Civil War—now gave sanction to the strict separation of the races.

LINCOLN

WITH MALICE

TOWARD NONE

WITH CHARITY

FOR ALL.

“Equal Rights

Before the Law.

The “Jim Crow” Street Car

THE WAY IT WORKS IN [illegible]

Stapleton
These signs were colloquially known as “Jim Crow Signs,” which transmitted their social and cultural meaning as spaces or places of inferior status and accommodation.

Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright was born in Sanford, Florida, and came of age during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He tells us what Jim Crow meant.

COLORED

Wright
Uh, Jim Crow was a system of segregation, essentially. Um, separate, uh, economic, political, social systems within a community and throughout the nation, and, uh, it simply meant, um, supposedly, “separate but equal” after a while, but somehow the “equal” got lost [laughs].

Stapleton
Racial segregation came from a series of laws passed at the state and local level at the end of the 19th century. This cumulated with the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson—that established that separate but equal facilities—was constitutional. Dr. Scot French, from the University of Central Florida, tells us about the philosophy behind these segregation laws.

COLORED

MEN

Orange County Courthouse 1950s Restroom Sign

French
These signs are really a product of a system of racial control that replaced slavery. In the aftermath of, uh, Reconstruction, there was a lot of conflict, obviously, in the streets and in public places…

COLORED ENTRANCE

French
And, uh, the politics of space became very personalized, and of course, this—this problem gets multiplied in the age of railroads when, uh, strangers are confronting one another in passenger cars, and there’s a real effort to control this population of free people, and to remind them of their place in society, and that place in the eyes of the powers that be, the—the white redeemers of the southern, uh, government and politics—their place was, uh, underneath the white man, that this was a white man’s country. After the Plessy decision, the Supreme Court decision which—well, made the—the—the principle of “separate but equal,” uh, the law of the land, there was en effort to begin to codify all of these practices in law to…

COLORED ENTRANCE

French
Designate certain spaces as for colored and certain spaces as for white…

WHITE ENTRANCE

CIVIL RIGHTS

French
and the idea behind this was that it would keep black people and white people from brushing up against each other in ways that would lead to—to conflict.

“Equal Rights

Before the Law.

The “Jim Crow” Street Car

Stapleton
The word “Jim Crow” originally came from African-American activists in the middle of the 19th century. African Americans used the term to describe the ways in which they were treated differently from whites in public accommodations and services. From then on, the name stuck.

JIM CROW.

[illegible]

Stapleton
Jim Crow was a blackface character, performed by white stage actors, during that time which portrayed blacks without human dignity or humanity through racist stereotypes. For African Americans, the system of racial segregation was part of that same dehumanizing legacy.

DIRECTORY

1ST FLOOR

COUNTY WELFARE DEPT

WHITE WAITING ROOM 8

COLORED 6

COUNTY CLINIC 8

DISTRICT WELFARE BOARD

INTAKE OFFICE

Stapleton
Even though according to the law and court decisions, separate was to be equal, it never was. “Separate” was only a way to reinforce difference. Dr. Wright tells us how he experienced segregation growing up in Central Florida.

Wright
Usually, there was a black section, um, if I remember correctly, uh, usually a smaller area, and usually more crowded than the larger so-called “white section,” and the black sections, uh—what were then called the “colored sections,” were not nearly as well-kept, and—and—and—and the like. That would be true in terms of the bathrooms, as well. For instance, I remember…

COLORED

Wright
Um, in many instances, um, men and women shared the same bathroom, while in the other section, you’d have women and then men, uh, facilities.

Uh, taking the bus was, um, notable, because it was understood that when you got on the bus you went to the back, and that was understood. There were no signs. The signs were the faces. The driver would, you know—knew that you were going to go to the back, and would give you a funny look if you sat too close up front, and that kind of thing. Not all of them, but some of them would.

If you went downtown, and you were standing at the counter, then you knew that everybody else was going to be waited on, served before you. So you could be standing there, but if a person who was white walked up, then they would reach around you and just continually serve all of them, until they had gone. Then, they would serve you.

Stapleton
Although racial segregation translated to second-class citizenship for African Americans, it did not mean that residents of Central Florida stood idly by.

7UP

BOO-BOO’S BAR

TOWN& COUNTRY

Stone’s[?]

Stapleton
African Americans founded their own businesses, churches, civic associations, and even towns. Local communities usually had a segregated downtown district, where African American businesses and residents lived. In Sanford, there was Georgetown; in Winter Park, there was Hannibal Square; and Parramore, on the west side of Downtown Orlando.

African Americans even established entire incorporated towns, which elected black officials, such as Goldsboro, west of Sanford, and Eatonville, north of Orlando. Goldsboro eventually was absorbed into the City of Sanford in 1911, but Eatonville is one of the few black municipalities founded during this period that still exists. Dr. Julian [C.] Chambliss, from Rollins College, tells us about these black business districts that emerged out of racially segregated cities.

THIS HOME IS FINANCED BY

Washington

Shores

Federal

Savings And Loan Association

715 GOLDWYN AVE.

293-7320 • ORLANDO

Chambliss
Well, segregation’s sort of unplanned, perhaps on some level, uh, benefit for an African-American community is to coalesce, uh, the [inaudible] community within the boundaries established by white society. As a result, what you see is a whole infrastructure created around servicing the black community—servicing—so black professionals, doctors, lawyers, teachers, um, black businesses that are serving black residents. All those are situated around the core of the black community. So if you look at a place like, for instance, Hannibal Square in Winter Park, Florida…

[illegible]

HOTEL

[illegible]

Chambliss
You have everything that African Americans could possibly need within the confines of their segregated community, and this, of course, bolsters the economic standing of those, uh, business owners and those professionals. They are, in fact, servicing a captured audience, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not doing good service to the community.

Stapleton
By the 1950s, many public places did not admit blacks at all, and separate entrances and facilities were common in courthouses and other public buildings for access by African Americans.

Another Supreme Court decision in 1954, Brown v. the Board of Education [of Topeka], finally overturned the Plessy decision, and the Federal Government finally declared that “separate” was not only unequal, but also unconstitutional.

Tallahassee Democrat

Court Bans Segregation

In Public School Cases

Court Ruling

Is Unanimous

Cases Directly Involve

Only Five States But 17

Others May Be Affected

[illegible]

Paroled Man’s

Captures Ends

Reign of Terror

[illegible] Retrieved

As Mayor [illegible]

[illegible]

Court Questions

Suit Challenging

Second Primary

[illegible]

Secrecy Clamp

Put On Talks

McCarthy Calls Order “Cover Up”

[illegible]

French Cancel

Air Evacuation

In Indochina

All Out Attack

Will Be Resumed

On Rebel Troops

[illegible]

Frank Costello

Gets Five Year

Prison Term

[illegible]

New US Bomber

Test Seen Near

[illegible]

Sober, Careful

Thought Urged

By Tom Bailey

[illegible]

Stapleton
Although by the 1950s, many Americans were recognizing that racial segregation was wrong, it was a long process for state and local communities to dismantle Jim Crow’s segregation. Dr. French explains.

French
It was really not any secret. Everybody knew this. In many ways…

COLORED ENTRANCE

French
The—that the—these signs were a part of a fiction of “separate but equal,” but for African Americans, of course, it was never equal. And, in fact, this was the basis for the great challenges to, uh…

WHITE ENTRANCE

CIVIL RIGHTS

French
Segregated society. the great legal challenges was the “equal” was not equal under this system, and, uh, you began to see in the 20th century a chipping away at this edifice of—of Jim Crow law…

Segregation

IS

UnAmerican[sic]

French
Based on the fact that the facilities provided to African Americans were profoundly unequal or absent altogether. After Brown v. Board of Education, many civil rights advocates—activists white and black—decided to test the law, to—to take the idea that public spaces should be open, uh, as there were increasingly being made open. The courts began to open up public spaces, particularly in places like interstate travel, and so the waiting rooms at bus stations or railroad stations became desegregated, technically. However, in practice, states and localities continued to enforce segregation. They left those signs on the walls, and they continued to insist that persons of color sit in different waiting rooms—in waiting rooms designated for them.

Stapleton
In Central Florida, racially segregated schools were the norm until the 1960s, when Durrance Elementary was integrated under pressure from the Federal Government. And soon, other Orange County schools agreed to desegregate.

[illegible]

Stapleton
Because of demonstrations by civil rights activists, community leaders, and students, local officials closed some public facilities, rather than allow them to be racially integrated. This public activism and protest against Jim Crow segregation…

FT. LAUDERDALE

NAACP

YOUTH COUNCIL

FT. LAUDERDALE

BRANCH

NAACP

NAACP

FORT LAUDERDALE

NAACP

KEY WEST

BRANCH

PASS THE

CIVIL RIGHTS

BILL!

NAACP

MIAMI

BRANCH

Stapleton
Was similar to events throughout the state and the rest of the South. It was through this activism, and because of the passing…

THE

Civil Rights

Act of 1964

Stapleton
Of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by the U.S. Congress that outlawed these forms of racial segregation and relegated the Jim Crow signs to the dust bin of history.

Although the system of Jim Crow disappeared, its absence, while welcomed by all segments of society, left a vacuum in the once-thriving black downtowns, as Dr. Chambliss explains.

CAMPUS

THEATER

Chambliss
In order to make sure African Americans had full sorta status as—as Americans, um, they had to break down the segregation system. As a consequence, the restrictions in terms of movement, and space, and regulations associated with zoning housing, uh, gave way, and with that, African Americans had the choice of where they wanted to live and how they wanted to live. This had a direct negative impact—impact on the strong cohesion that was created by that outward force constraining African Americans into their, uh, communities. So you see a spread—a spreading out, but you also, I think, see a kind of breaking down. The strong cohesion created by the outside force threatening the black community goes away. African Americans are able—‘cause, especially middle-class and upper-class African Americans, are able to move to places that are better, and this leaves the working-class African Americans…

7UP

BOO-BOO’S BAR

TOWN& COUNTRY

Stone’s[?]

Chambliss
Um, in that former space, but without the sort of economic and social connections that they had during segregation.

Stapleton
As Dr. Chambliss mentioned, the legacy of Jim Crow is bittersweet. It is a legacy that residents of these communities confront today. Dr. Wright recalls for us his struggle with this legacy, and the conversation he had with his mentor and friend, the late Gwendolyn [Elizabeth] Brooks, the famous African-American poet.

Wright
It’s interesting that, um, when I think of, um, integration, uh, and the whole business of…

CARVER

DOUBLE

FEATURE

ROBERT TAYLOR

THE BRIBE

LOUIS JORDAN BEWARE

[illegible]

NEWS

WORZ • ARM CLUB• KIDDIE SHOW

Free STAGE SHOW Here

• AUCTION • PRIZES • FUN •

Wright
Uh, segregation supposedly going away, one of the—one of the great losses is, in fact, the—the black community—the black business community. Um, members of the black community are—are now affiliated with, uh, non-black institutions, and—and that’s the way it is. Reminds me of what Gwendolyn Brooks said to me when I said to her one day, “All of the black principals have moved out of the community,” and she said, “Oh.” Looked at me and she said, “I’m glad you stayed. I’m glad you stayed. They need to see you.”

[illegible]

Wright
The children need to see you,” and that’s I think the great loss with—with the, um—with that. But when, um, integration advanced, as far as I’m concerned, uh…

COLORED ENTRANCE

Wright
The black community suffered irreparably. It will never recover. Uh…

Stapleton
We hope that you have enjoyed this episode of A History of Central Florida podcast. For more information on the objects featured in this episode…

Orange County Regional

History Center

65 E Central Blvd.

Orlando, FL 32801

Stapleton
Please visit the Orange County Regional History Center at 65 East Central Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, 32801.

Episode 43

Surf Boards

Stapleton
Make sure to join us for our next episode entitled “Surf Boards.”

Executive Producer

Robert Cassanello

Episode Producer

Kevin Stapleton

Written by

Kevin Stapleton

Directed by

Kevin Stapleton

Edited by

Chip Ford

Photos

Bob Clarke

Photos & Images

Florida Memory Project

Photos & Images

Library of Congress

Voices

Kevin Stapleton

Voices

Dr. Julian Chambliss

Voices

Dr. Scot French

Voices

Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright

Production Staff

Bob Clarke

Production Staff

Chip Ford

Production Staff

Ella Gibson

Production Staff

Kendra Hazen

Production Staff

Katie Kelley

Production Staff

Daniel Velásquez

Moving Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 podcast

Duration

14 minutes and 16 seconds

Compression

135kbps

Producer

Cassanello, Robert A.

Director

Stapleton, Kevin

Locations

Categories