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Emancipation Betrayed

The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920

Paul Ortiz (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 430 pages
ISBN: 9780520250031
October 2006
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
In this penetrating examination of African American politics and culture, Paul Ortiz throws a powerful light on the struggle of black Floridians to create the first statewide civil rights movement against Jim Crow. Concentrating on the period between the end of slavery and the election of 1920, Emancipation Betrayed vividly demonstrates that the decades leading up to the historic voter registration drive of 1919-20 were marked by intense battles during which African Americans struck for higher wages, took up arms to prevent lynching, forged independent political alliances, boycotted segregated streetcars, and created a democratic historical memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Contrary to previous claims that African Americans made few strides toward building an effective civil rights movement during this period, Ortiz documents how black Floridians formed mutual aid organizations—secret societies, women's clubs, labor unions, and churches—to bolster dignity and survival in the harsh climate of Florida, which had the highest lynching rate of any state in the union. African Americans called on these institutions to build a statewide movement to regain the right to vote after World War I. African American women played a decisive role in the campaign as they mobilized in the months leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. The 1920 contest culminated in the bloodiest Election Day in modern American history, when white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan violently, and with state sanction, prevented African Americans from voting. Ortiz's eloquent interpretation of the many ways that black Floridians fought to expand the meaning of freedom beyond formal equality and his broader consideration of how people resist oppression and create new social movements illuminate a strategic era of United States history and reveal how the legacy of legal segregation continues to play itself out to this day.
List of Illusrations
List of Tables
Preface: Election Day in Florida
Prologue: Slavery and Civil War

1. The Promise of Reconstruction
2. The Struggle to Save Democracy
3. We Are in the Hands of the Devil: Fighting Racial Terrorism
4. To Gain These Fruits That Have Been Earned: Emancipation Day
5. To See That None Suffer: Mutual Aid and Resistance
6. Looking for a Free State to Live In
7. Echoes of Emancipation: The Great War in Florida
8. With Babies in Their Arms: The Voter Registration Movement
9. Election Day, 1920

Conclusion: Legacies of the Florida Movement
Selected Bibliography
Paul Ortiz is Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida and the coeditor of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell about Life in the Segregated South (2001).
“As both an essential teaching of American history and a critical resource for understanding grassroots organizing today, Paul Ortiz’s Emancipation Betrayed deserves the widest possible audience.”—Randy Shaw
“This is a compelling tale, one that helps to adjust the view that blacks were powerless in the 50 years after Reconstruction ended. . . . Recommended.”—J. A. Luckett Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“This study is a welcome addition to the growing body of scholarly literature on how African Americas in Florida and the South sought to expand the meaning of freedom in the years between the end of the Civil War and the end of World War I. Ortiz has written a superb book with depth and suggestiveness.”—Walter T. Howard Ethnic & Racial Stds
“A successful work that highlights the struggle of black Floridians for civil rights.”—H-Net Reviews
“Ortiz’s excellent study. . . contributes significantly to the historiography of Reconstruction and its aftermath.”—Albert S. Broussard Unknown
"Paul Ortiz's lyrical and closely argued study introduces us to unknown generations of freedom fighters for whom organizing democratically became in every sense a way of life. Ortiz changes the very ways we think of Southern history as he shows in marvelous detail how Black Floridians came together to defend themselves in the face of terror, to bury their dead, to challenge Jim Crow, to vote, and to dream."—David R. Roediger, author of Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

Emancipation Betrayed is a remarkable piece of work, a tightly argued, meticulously researched examination of the first statewide movement by African Americans for civil rights, a movement which since has been effectively erased from our collective memory. The book poses a profound challenge to our understanding of the limits and possibilities of African American resistance in the early twentieth century. This analysis of how a politically and economically marginalized community nurtures the capacity for struggle speaks as much to our time as to 1919.”—Charles Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Book Prize, Florida Historical Society

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