Florida and the Colored Conventions Movement
Convention Travels of Florida Delegates
The most notable Colored Convention did not occur until 1884, yet many of the most important Black politicians in Florida during Reconstruction, were delegates in at least one convention. Convention culture affected them as political leaders in the second half of the nineteenth century. African American leaders came into contact with convention leaders, in part, because many of them overlapped. Convention Travels of Florida Delegates tells the story of some of Florida’s earliest Black politicians. Out of the cohort of Florida’s early Black politicians, the only two featured with political or Colored Conventions careers prior to the end of the Civil War were Rev. Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs and J. Willis Menard. Congressman Josiah T. Walls, Judge James Dean, Rev. Joseph E. Lee, and State Representative Thomas V.R. Gibbs were Florida politicians and convention delegates only after the Colored Conventions and large-scale political opportunities for Black men came about during Reconstruction. Each man was greatly influenced by the movement not only because of their conventions attendance, but because nationally Black politicians were always affected by the political rumblings and networks created within the movement that helped create institutions throughout the state. Taking account of the convention(s) each delegate attended and any important speeches made during the convention(s), viewers of the exhibit see the inner-workings of the conventions from the perspective of its Florida actors.