This week's Black History Month Spotlight is on Shane and Amy La Beet. Owners of Pepper Pot Island Cafe.
Here are some questions we asked them.
In the late 1700’s, African Americans experienced racism and discrimination attending Christian church services at primarily white congregations. In 1794, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, a former slave from Delaware, who sought a safe space for African Methodists to worship. During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, clergy of the AME recruited many newly freed slaves into the church. As a result, AME spread across the United States.
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Key West has been a staple of the African American community in the Bahama Village neighborhood since 1887. Originally built on Duval Street, the location was moved in 1923 to its present location on Truman Avenue after damages from the Hurricane of 1909, and a fire that some speculate were possibly the actions of the Ku Klux Klan in 1922.
This week's Black History Month Spotlight is on Chef Clive Thompson, Owner of One Love Food Truck.
Here are some questions we asked Chef Clive Thompson:
In 1860, three American owned ships were intercepted by the United States Navy as they were bound for Cuba with the intent of selling the 1,432 Africans on board into slave labor. The Navy brought the Africans to the safe-haven of Key West, where a barracks and hospital were built within a confined compound.
This week's Black History Month Spotlight is on Carmen Turner, Owner of Henry's Barkalicious Dog Treats
Here are some questions we asked Ms. Turner:
This week's Black History Month Spotlight is on Commissioner Clayton Lopez with the City of Key West, District VI.
Here are some questions we ask Commissioner Lopez:
Despite being the Southernmost city in the United States, during the American Civil War, Key West’s strong Navy and Army presence allowed the area to remain controlled by the Union. This gave the North an advantage in blockading the Gulf of Mexico, and many slave refugees and free Blacks found Key West to be a southern safe haven of freedom.
In 1863, after the Emancipation Proclamation, Colonel James Montgomery of Kansas was sent to Key West to recruit a regiment of only Black soldiers. Black men in the island city between the ages of 15 and 50 deemed to be physically fit were ordered to report for duty in Hilton Head, South Carolina to fight on behalf of the Union in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment.
The names of the Black men from Key West who fought - at least 18 of whom were killed in combat - were sadly not well preserved, and many have been lost to time. In February of 2016, on the same date those men were called to duty in 1863, the City of Key West honored these individuals with a statue of a Black Union soldier presented at a ceremony in Bayview Park, poignantly titled “The Forgotten Soldier”. The statue was donated by local businessman Ed Knight, who hoped to bring awareness to the sacrifice of these men so they would no longer be forgotten.
In 1942, shortly after the United States entered the second World War, African Americans began to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order banning discrimination within the US Defense Industry. Despite being able to join, the military was still segregated and Black marines were trained at a separate facility known as Montford Point near Jacksonville, North Carolina.
During this time, unlike white soldiers, the Black marines had to “fight for the right to fight” - many were not given the chance to serve in combat, despite being forced to go through significantly harder physical and mental testing. 20,000 Black recruits went through training at this camp between 1942-1949, discontinuing when segregation within the armed forces was outlawed by President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981. They were finally recognized for their service in 2012 by President Barack Obama, with the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to all living and nonliving Montford Point Marines.
13 Montford Point Marines were locals from Key West. In 2021, the City honored these men who served in the face of adversity with a memorial in the Key West Veterans Memorial Garden at Bayview Park, a ceremony that was attended by many, including children and great grandchildren of the 13. The engraved monument lists the names of all; Clarence Alce Sr., George Carey, Charles A. Allen, Sr., Ralph Williams, Nathan B. Tynes, Robert B. Sawyer, Sr., Nathaniel W. Mickens, Charles G. Manuel, William C. Johnson, Sr., Shedrack M.A. Hannibal, Timothy E. Johnson, James Hall, and Vernol H. Carey. It is located near a separate monument dedicated to the Black Union soldiers who were recruited from Key West to fight in the Civil War.
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