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Mims in Brevard County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Groveland Four

Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park

 
 
Groveland Four Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, July 21, 2021
1. Groveland Four Marker
Inscription.  
The July 16, 1949, a 17-year-old white woman and her estranged husband reported to police that she had been abducted at approximately 2:30 a.m., driven approximately 25 minutes to a dead-end road, and raped by four black men. By the end of the night, law enforcement had arrested three young men – Mr. Irvin, Mr. Greenlee, and Mr. Shepherd – who would be severely beaten by the authorities. Mr. Thomas, meanwhile, “understanding the racial realities of the time and the danger he was in,” had fled the country, the resolution said. A posse of about 1,000 men tracked him down days later in nearby swamps, where he died “in a hail of gunfire.”

N.A.A.C.P. lawyers, including Franklin Williams and Thurgood Marshall, took an active role in the men’s defense. It was clear to the that at least two, Mr. Greenlee and Mr. Thomas, were never at the scene of the alleged crime; that the beatings had led to forced confessions; and that important evidence, including a medical examination of the woman, was never presented in court. An all-white jury sentenced Mr. Irvin and Mr. Shepherd to death, and Mr. Greenlee to life in prison. Mr. Williams and Mr.
Groveland Four Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, July 21, 2021
2. Groveland Four Marker
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Marshall appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, were the convictions were unanimously overturned in 1951. But the story was far from over. Sheriff McCall had been personally driving the men to appear in court in Tavares when he stopped the car. Shots were fired. The sheriff would claim that he had stopped to fix aflat tire, that the two men had tried to attack him, and that he had shot them in self-defense.

Mr. Irvin survived. From a hospital bed, he told investigators that after the sheriff shot him twice, another official, deputy Sheriff James L. Yates, shot him again in the neck, at point-blank range, while he lay on the ground. He recovered and was eventually retried, only to be convicted and sentenced to death again, by another all-white jury. The sheriff who shot him was re-elected five more times.

More than a half-century after a violent, dramatic criminal case in central Florida earned national attention, the State Senate passes a resolution apologizing to the families of four black men who were “victims of racial hatred” and “gross injustices” during the era of state sanctioned segregation in the American South.
 
Erected by Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans
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Civil RightsLaw Enforcement. A significant historical date for this entry is July 16, 1949.
 
Location. 28° 39.224′ N, 80° 50.707′ W. Marker is in Mims, Florida, in Brevard County. Marker is on Freedom Avenue, 0.3 miles south of Parker Street, on the left when traveling south. Located within the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park and Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2180 Freedom Avenue, Mims FL 32754, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Brown v. Board of Education (a few steps from this marker); Little Rock Nine (within shouting distance of this marker); Freedom Riders (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Mary Jane McLeod Bethune (within shouting distance of this marker); Voting Rights Act (within shouting distance of this marker); March On Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); Violence In Hemming Plaza (within shouting distance of this marker); Rosa Parks (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mims.
 
Also see . . .  Groveland Four. Black Past website entry (Submitted on August 19, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 19, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 79 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 19, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Jan. 31, 2023