When one thinks of Florida during the 1920s, it is usually the “land boom” which comes to mind. The astronomical increase in property values, the population explosion, the fantastic advertising, and then the cataclysmic hurricane in September 1926, which brought it to a sudden and traumatic end, have dominated historical thought and literature of that decade in Florida. Yet much more was happening, and the “boom” was both the symbol and the vehicle of these other activities. Floridians and their southern neighbors were feeling the forces of unwelcome change as never before. The old agricultural system was breaking up, cities and city life were becoming more important, national news and especially national ideas were being reported and discussed with more frequency. The “red scare” in the aftermath of World War I, the dispute between “fundamentalists” and “modernists” over conflicts between Biblical and scientific interpretations of man’s origins, and the increasing restiveness of Negroes since they began migrating out of the South just after the turn of the century convinced many white Floridians that their way of life was being threatened by forces which they could not control. Applauded by many because it promised economic improvement, the “boom” not only exemplified the forces of change, but in many cases actually brought change into the lives of the state’s inhabitants. This was the case with Hendry County’s “moment of shame” when some of LaBelle’s prominent citizens brutally tortured and lynched a Negro road construction worker while most of their neighbors looked on in May 1926.
Shofner, Jerrell H.
"Judge Herbert Rider and the Lynching at Labelle,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 59:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol59/iss3/4