The Murder of the Groveland Boys

Devil in the GroveIn the deep south during the Civil Rights movement, Citrus Barons ruled Florida and got rich on the backs of cheap Negro labor instituted by the Jim Crow laws. The KKK was a powerful and deadly force.

This was a dire time for negroes in the south, many were held in peonage-forced labor-by the rich Citrus Barons. Local law enforcement fully supported this practice. In 1949 a young woman falsely cried rape and the hunt for four negro boys ensued by Sheriff Willis V McCall who ruled Lake County, Florida with an iron hand. McCall was a violent sheriff and a KKK member. Many negro homes were burnt to the ground and hundreds of negro men and boys fled to the swamps where they were chased down. The lynching of negroes was a common practice of the times. Thurgood Marshall, a  civil rights activist, a prominent lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice became involved. His life was threatened and one of his law clerks was murdered during the investigation.

This is book, based on factual evidence and court proceedings, is a stunning look at race relations and law enforcement of the deep south.

I highly recommend this Pulitzer Prize winning book. It is an in depth look at racism at its worse. These were not the good old days, these were very dark days for America. As we are held in thrall by current events, we are reminded of how deep seated prejudices scar our nation. We must never again allow political demagoguery and bigotry to worm its way into our public consciousness.