The Legacy

Downtown Marianna, Florida by The Suss Man (Mike) at
As Florida’s Republican governor and his cohorts dream of new ways to keep minorities from voting, the State’s history on the subject of racial injustice has provided a morbid reminder:

Anthropologists have found evidence of 98 deaths and more graves than previously identified at a now-closed state reform school in the Panhandle, according to a report released Monday.

An interim report released by the University of South Florida in Tampa says the researchers found at least 50 gravesites at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee.

It’s the kind of nightmare you’d think would be the lead news throughout the country, but so far not all that much. Ritualistic beating, isolation, and clearly worse abuse of young black kids over a period of more than a half century form World War One into the early 1970s.

The anthropologists, led by Associate Professor Erin Kimmerle, used historical documents to verify the deaths of two adult staff members and 96 children — ranging in age from 6 to 18 — from 1914 through 1973.

“The cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown,” the researchers wrote. In those cases where causes could be documented the most common were infectious disease, fires, physical trauma and drowning.

Other mortality patterns showed trends of deaths occurring after escapes and within three months of arriving at the school.

The institution was a reformatory for black children, almost all of them sent there on minor offenses — and given the nature of Jim Crow justice, for which this school is the eternal symbol, how many of those offenses were these kids even guilty of?

You know what might have prevented something like this in the past? Allowing African-Americans to vote in large numbers.

And Rick Scott and the Republicans want to make sure that isn’t allowed to get out of hand.

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