Sunday, June 24, 2018
Politics

Pioneer who desegregated Florida's beaches in 1953 returns to House

TALLAHASSEE — Until 1953, when Jack Mashburn sat in the Florida House, African-Americans risked being arrested if they set foot on any of the state's beaches.

Mashburn, then a 22-year-old, first-term Democrat from Panama City, changed that, creating the first park for black beachgoers in the South. And he lost his seat in the House for it.

A year before the U.S. Supreme Court ended school segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education, Mashburn persuaded his colleagues in the Legislature to set aside a beach at St. Andrews State Park for black Floridians.

"They treated me with great suspicion for one thing because they didn't think I was real," he said Wednesday, standing for the first time in decades on the floor of the Florida House. "But I told them what my father told me: 'Always do what is right, regardless of personal consequences.' "

Mashburn is 87 years old now. Two years ago, he met Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes — whose wife, Anne, is a distant relative of Mashburn — at a family reunion.

Corcoran asked Mashburn to come back to Tallahassee for the ceremony that officially named the Pasco County Republican the next speaker of the House.

"Do you know how many of us have served in this chamber … who during their entire legislative careers never did anything as brave or meaningful as that 22-year-old kid who served one term and never chaired a single committee?" Corcoran said Wednesday in a speech after being elected speaker-designate.

Mashburn demurs. It was the right thing to do, he says.

"The unfairness of it, for God's sakes!" Mashburn said. "Having a person arrested for putting his foot in the sand or in the water, that is ridiculous. It always has been ridiculous."

In 1954, Mashburn lost re-election.

He doesn't remember the name of the person who beat him, but the defeat was resounding enough to end his political career. He went back to his job at Arizona Chemical, working for $2.10 an hour.

A lot has changed since then. Every beach in Florida is integrated. And nearly a quarter of state lawmakers are black. Mashburn is confident there are more people in the Legislature now who would be willing to stand up against the prevailing attitude of the day than there were in the 1950s.

On Wednesday, those present-day officials lined up to shake hands and take pictures with their predecessor.

"I just wanted to come over and say thank you," Tampa Democrat Ed Narain, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, told Mashburn. "I am here because of you."

Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report. Contact Michael Auslen at [email protected] Follow @MichaelAuslen.

Comments
Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

LEXINGTON, Va. - Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18