The Southeast and the World

Jacksonville's African American communities had extensive ties in the early twentieth century that went beyond the boundaries of the city, with close connections to the Southestern United States and the broader world. Hints of such ties can be seen in the geography of Muse's notes and narratives. 

Places in the Southeast and beyond. Open in a separate window.

Three factors stand out in the relationship between Jacksonville and the Southeast, and to a lesser extent, the Mid-Atlantic states. First, the majority of the former enslaved persons that Muse interviews experienced slavery in other parts of the Southeast, resettling to Jacksonville after Emancipation. They include Charles Coates, Irene Coates, Felix Littlejohn, Lindsay Moore, and Anna Scott, with only Willis Williams having been enslaved in Florida. Second, Jacksonville was an important transit hub, particularly with respect to railroads. A few documents that point to Jacksonville's role in the railway systems of the day include Willis Williams Narrative (1 of 2), "Early Jacksonville History: Introduction" (3 of 3), and Pattie Louphelia Busby Green (1 of 5). Lastly, many of the individuals interviewed or profiled by Muse had attended institutions of higher learning in the Southeast and elsewhere, including John Henry Adams (Morris Brown University in Atlanta, Georgia); W.E. Dancer (Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama); James Weldon Johnson (Clark Atlanta University); Zora Neale Hurston (Morgan Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, Howard University in Washington, DC, and Columbia University in New York City); Smart P. Livingston (Fisk University in Nashville); Benjamin A. Richardson (Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts); Harden Woodham Stuckey (Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina); and Reverend Thomas H.B. Walker (Clark Atlanta University and Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta).

Connections outside the United States. Open in a separate window.

The documents also reveal connections to the larger world. Some of Muse's interviewees had traveled abroad or had family ties and recent histories that extended beyond the nation's borders. Anna Scott had lived for a period in Liberia (see Anna Scott Narrative (2 of 3)). The Reverend Thomas H.B. Walker had spent time in several European countries and Liberia, with the title of Knight Commander conferred upon him by the latter (see Reverend Thomas H.B. Walker (2 of 2)). The family history of Rebecca Fulton connects with the Caribbean and South America (see Rebecca Fulton Narrative). James Weldon Johnson, whom Muse profiles (see James Weldon Johnson), had resided in Venezuela and Nicaragua during his tenure in the United States diplomatic corps.

The Southeast and the World