Florida was not always the “Sunshine State”. This was a reinvention of the 1950s to attract tourists. Before that, Florida was a racist southern state just like all the others, and, in some ways, worse. A black person in Florida stood a greater chance of being lynched than a black person in Mississippi or Alabama. But almost all of Florida’s painful racial past has been whitewashed, marginalized, or buried intentionally. But I was born here. I know Florida’s flowers and her warts. For four decades my work has taken me from Key West to Pensacola and many places in between. Florida’s black history well is deep. Drink here often.
This page is supported by the Miami Center for Racial Justice and funded with assistance from George S. Blumenthal.
His book, Black Miami in the Twentieth Century, explores the highs and lows of black history in South Florida from black migration to Miami, through the Civil Rights movement, racist incidents such as the McDuffie riots and the recent immigration of black populations from Latin America and the Caribbean. A documentary based on the book, called The Black Miami, stars Prof. Dunn and is available for viewing on Amazon Prime.
Dr. Dunn’s second definitive book is A History of Florida: Through Black Eyes. This book relates the untold stories of African-Americans, placing them at the center of the story instead of as backdrops to white history. A chapter from this book serves as the focal point for this website, telling the tale of the Rosewood massacre through thorough research and eyewitness accounts.
About Dr. Marvin Dunn
A former naval officer, Marvin Dunn is a Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology at Florida International University, retiring as chairperson of the department in 2006. He has published numerous articles in leading newspapers on race and ethnic relations including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel and the Miami Herald. He is the author of the following books: The History of Florida: Through Black Eyes, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2016), Black Miami in the Twentieth Century, University Press of Florida (1997). He is the coauthor of This Land is Our Land, California: University of California Press. (2003) and The Miami Riot of 1980: Crossing the Bounds, Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath (1984).
He has produced three documentary films including, “Rosewood Uncovered,” documenting the Rosewood Massacre of 1923, “Murder on the Suwanee: The Willie James Howard Story,” the story of the lynching of a fifteen year old black child in Live Oak, Florida in 1944 and “Black Seminoles in the Bahamas: The Red Bays story” which documents the flight of slaves from Florida escaping to the Bahama Islands in the 1800s and “The Black Miami” based upon his book, Black Miami in the Twentieth Century. He was born and raised in Florida and currently lives in Miami, Florida.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Dunn and other community advocates for racial justice founded the Miami Center for Racial Justice. According to Dunn, “ The Miami Center for Racial Justice will be a beacon in our community. We seek to foster a safe space for dialogue on racial issues, to promote unity, and allow for frank confrontation of the history of racial terror through the examination and preservation of stories of racial terror in Florida.”