Florida has a relationship with African descendants unlike any other state. Early Spanish inhabitants believed that Florida reminded Africans of their homeland. From its earliest beginnings, it became a place for African descendants to come to create a better existence for themselves and their kin. By providing a safe haven for runaway slaves from English Plantation society, Florida became the first destination for the Underground Railroad. Beginning in the late 19th Century, numbers of Afro Caribbean peoples began to come to Florida seeking opportunities that may not otherwise have; and of course, this migration continues today. As we move further into the 21st century, Florida continues to lead the way in demonstrating the development of a multicultural society which includes many contributions from African descendants.
A Timeline of the African Diaspora Experience highlights those main events that occurred within this special relationship. It chronologically takes readers through a journey while forecasting the path for the Diaspora in the future. It is divided into eight major periods within Florida history: First Spanish Period, British Occupation, Second Spanish Period, Territorial Florida and Statehood, Florida during Civil War and Reconstruction, Early 20th Century Florida, Civil Rights Era in Florida, and Florida’s Post-Civil Rights Era. Each section begins with a general overview of Florida (for that particular era) with emphasis on the African diaspora experience.
A Timeline of the African Diaspora Experience’s initial conception came from a desire to help infuse more African American history into the school curriculum. One of the issues facing accomplishing this task is the possibility of adding to a large amount of curriculum that already inundates teachers. Therefore, it was then decided that instead of writing an academic book, I transformed it into more of a reference piece of literature in the form of a timeline. For practical measures, a second general American History timeline is added at the bottom of each page. This allows teachers to quickly infuse this information when covering American History.
This project would not have been completed without the assistance of the Florida State Library’s Photographic Memory Project, FAAHPN, and the Florida African American History Task Force.