Patricia Dillon


The civil rights movement in the United States reached beyond the federal legislation that eradicated legal segregation. The movement also fundamentally transformed how white and black Americans interacted on a daily basis in small communities and large urban centers. Historians such as John Dittmer, William H. Chafe, and David R. Colburn have analyzed how national laws affected racial relations at the community level. While Dittmer and Chafe examined the movement in states traditionally associated with the civil rights movement— Mississippi and North Carolina respectively—Colburn looked at the movement in Florida, a state whose contemporary popular image as a tourist haven dominated by theme parks masks its history of racial tension. Seeking to address Florida’s controversial past, Colburn and other historians of the state, such as David Goldfield, Randall Miller, George E. Pozetta, Tom Wagy, and Charles U. Smith, have successfully documented the importance of Florida in the national civil rights movement.