Jon Evans


On the evening of Easter Sunday 1945, a quiet darkness fell on Tallahassee, home to Florida's state government, the Florida State College for Women, and Dale Mabry Airfield. After a day of holiday festivities and celebration, activities in the small town began to wind down. Yet, around 10 p.m., the stillness was broken by the sounds of angry voices and shattering glass int he city's predominantly black Frenchtown neighborhood. The calm of that Sunday evening was marred by a disturbance involving black troops Dale Mabry Field and Carrabelle's Camp Gordon Johnston. the melee began, according to Tallahassee Chief of Police W. L. Prater, after "about 200 to 250 coored troops...went into Otis McNeil's place...and told McNeil...they were going overseas and...were going to take Frenchtown apart and paint it red." The riot raged throughout Frenchtown for over two hours.