Booker T. Washington in his book, The Negro in Business, selected Pensacola, Florida, as a "typical Negro business community" to illustrate the economic progress of blacks since the Civil War. Pensacola, he felt, was "representative of that healthy progressive communal spirit, so necessary to our people...." Washington’s information, obtained largely from the periodical pages of the Colored American, was quite accurate in describing the community's Negro populace during the period 1896 to approximately 1913. In 1907 The Voice of the Negro provided a similar appraisal of Pensacola's Negroes: "It has been equally surprising to note the amount of business done by our people. For instance, in the city of Pensacola, Florida, the amount of capital invested in 1900 was above $50,000, and the amount of capital that year was over $250,000. The same and even better may be said of many other cities throughout the South." There were indications of a strong economic and social base established by a small, but seemingly healthy Negro middle class, and a large and growing laboring class whose pay rate on skilled and semiskilled jobs closely approximated the white workers's scale. The rapid growth of Pensacola after 1880 allowed enterprising Negroes to become early participators in providing necessary services. The position of these middle class blacks during a period from the late 1890s to 1910 was one of moderate commercial and residential integration and comity. But toward the end of the century's first decade, this relative social acceptance, economic health, and some measure of security changed, and the economic and social status of the Negroes began to decline with few exceptions. It is the purpose of this study to touch upon some of the factors encouraging Negro well-being, to indicate evidence of this decline, and to show its close relation to the concomitant economic decline of the city of Pensacola itself.
Bragow, Donald H.
"Status of Negroes in a Southern Port City in the Progressive Era: Pensacola, 1896-1920,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 51:
3, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol51/iss3/6