Paul S. George


At the time of Miami’s incorporation in 1896, the fortunes of black Americans had declined to their lowest level since the Civil War. The heady illusions and notable accomplishments of the freedmen during Reconstruction had succumbed to the harsh realities of economic dependency and the restoration of white Democratic rule in the South. Increasingly, blacks found themselves scapegoats for political and economic tensions and targets of virulent new doctrines of racial inferiority, resulting in widespread disfranchisement, segregation (Jim Crow) legislation, and increasing white intimidation and violence in Florida and elsewhere in the South. The problems worsened in the early decades of the twentieth century, a period that one historian has aptly described as the “nadir of race relations in Florida and the nation.“