Five Things You Didn’t Know About Sanford’s Racist Past
1 year ago
Suburban town’s history places Trayvon Martin tragedy among horrid record of racism
There’s a reason why the chapters on slavery in most high school textbooks are short -- it's rarely an easy subject to revisit for descendents.
In Sanford, Fla., the suburban town that is now infamous for allegedly mishandling the investigation of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, racial tensions seemed to have always bubbled just below the surface.
A Mother Jones report by Adam Weinstein detailed several reasons why this is. Here are five of them:
1. Sanford’s founder wanted to ship freed blacks back to Africa
Henry Shelton Sanford established the town in the 1870s, conceiving it as a citrus hub. Although the industry never really took off there, Sanford had established a trade relationship with Belgium, which controlled the African territory of Congo. Sanford advocated sending freed African American slaves to rid white residents of the “gathering electricity from that black cloud spreading over the Southern states," as the founder is on record for saying.
2. Racial tensions swelled after town merged with black enclave
There was no “back-to-Congo movement,” Weinstein wrote. A merger with a neighboring black community, Goldsborough, created new tensions. That community’s black officials – the mayor, the Council people, the postmistress, the jailers and the marshal – were not given municipal jobs to replace the ones they lost.
3. Racists chased a young Jackie Robison out of town
“Before he broke Major League Baseball's race barrier in 1947, Robinson played for a Dodgers farm team in Sanford,” Weinstein wrote. White residents didn’t like that one bit and violently demanded the mayor remove Robinson from the town team. The Robinson family was “run out of Sanford,” fearing violence, Robinson’s daughter recently told The Nation.