Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

A memorial for Hillsborough lynching victims is coming

“A good community does not run from its history,” said Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, who supports a memorial.
A grave marker in Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery for a lynching victim.
A group of local elected officials, historians, pastors and civil rights leaders want a historic marker memorializing all the county’s lynching victims. [Paul Guzzo]
A grave marker in Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery for a lynching victim. A group of local elected officials, historians, pastors and civil rights leaders want a historic marker memorializing all the county’s lynching victims. [Paul Guzzo]
Published Dec. 5, 2019

TAMPA — Two are known only as Adam and Galloway.

The others are John Crooms, Lewis Jackson, Samuel Arline and Robert Johnson.

Most Hillsborough County residents have never heard of these men.

But a newly formed committee made up of local elected officials, historians, pastors and civil rights leaders wants to change that.

Each man was a local African-American victim of a racial lynching; the lynchings took place here from the 1850s through the early 1900s.

They are symbols of the violent means white supremacists employed to intimidate black residents.

The committee will one day etch those names on a historic marker that will memorialize the county’s lynching victims and educate the public on that sad chapter of local history.

“Our past is disturbing but it shouldn’t be surprising,” said Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera who serves on the lynching memorial committee alongside State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, historian Fred Hearns, former Hillsborough NAACP president Carolyn Hepburn-Collins, Allen Temple A.M.E. Church pastor Glenn Dames and others.

“We have to know our history," Viera said. "A good community acknowledges its history. A good community does not run from its history. We live up to that history.”

The process is still in its early stages, Viera said.

The committee, which formed six months ago, has yet to decide on a location or whether they will seek a statue, a wall of some sort, or one of the green, county-approved plaques that tell local history and are seen throughout Hillsborough.

Lynching victims Galloway, Grooms, Jackson, Arline and Johnson are already listed on the National Lynching Memorial in Montgomery, Ala.

And Adam has a grave marker in downtown Tampa’s Oaklawn Cemetery that reads “Adam a black slave lynched Dec. 16, 1859.”

Still, said Councilman Viera, “We need to do more to tell this story. We view this not as a point of division but rather as a point of healing, a point of dialogue and a point of knowing all our history."

The story of lynching victim Johnson is told in detail in old newspaper clippings.

In 1934, he was arrested for assaulting a white woman but not charged, according to news archives.

But he was guilty of stealing chickens.

As he was was being transferred to a city jail, Johnson was kidnapped by three men and shot dead.

Ludd Spivey, president of Florida Southern College at the time, told newspapers that it was the worst crime committed in Florida within the last 150 years.

“If such brutality is the final consequence of civilization,” he said, “then I don’t care for it.”

But neither the city of Tampa nor Hillsborough County should forget that it happened, said Councilman Viera.

“It is our history of suffering,” he said. “This is about honoring those who came before us and suffered, and it is about acknowledging our full history. We cannot ignore those parts that are disturbing.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Ralph Wald and his wife, Johnna Flores, leave the Orient Road Jail on May 30, 2013, after Wald was acquitted in the fatal shooting of her lover. [[TIMES (2013)]  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Ralph Wald shot and killed his wife’s lover in their home in 2013, but a jury found him not guilty. Now he’s charged with manslaughter in the September death of a woman in his home.
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Crash took place just before 1 a.m., troopers said. Deceased hasn’t yet been identified.
  3. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  4. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking for information about a man accused of killing a duck at a Town 'N Country apartment complex in Tampa. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. [Bay News 9]
    He used bread to lure the bird in before killing it. A complaint was filed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  5. Rocky Johnson, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and a resident of Lutz, died Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Johnson thought he had flu. He went to the doctor the day before he died.
  6. Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [Yacht StarShip]
    After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
  7. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’
  8. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  9. Former Hillsborough sheriff's Corporal Demetrius Dixon, inset, filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 7 claiming he was the target of discrimination because of his attention deficit disorder. [Inset photo: Kyle Lee; Main: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Demetrius Dixon was a corporal who sought a promotion to sergeant but was instead forced to retire early, the lawsuit says.
  10. The Undercroft — the new home to a branch office of TheIncLab, an artificial intelligence firm — provides work space for several cybersecurity companies in one of Ybor City’s most historic structures, the El Pasaje building on E Ninth Avenue. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times [Richard Danielson]
    The Washington, D.C.-area company expects hiring 15 developers and engineers in the next twelve months and partnering with bay area universities to augment its staff with student interns.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement