Florida Tech’s Annual African American Read-In

5th Annual African American Read-InEach February, the School of Arts and Communication partners with Evans Library to present the African American Read-In. This event celebrates the words, rhythms, and sounds of black authors, musicians, poets, playwrights, and scholars. 

Florida Tech students, faculty, and alumni join with residents in the greater Brevard County community to showcase these works and amplify the voices and influences of black achievement throughout the United States. 

Noted participants have included two-time shuttle astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain Winston Scott, a professor emeritus at Florida Tech, and Lizzie Robinson, a descendant of a survivor of the Rosewood Massacre in 1923 and the founder and president of The Real Rosewood Foundation, Inc., an organization dedicated to preserving the event's history and impact. Also, Sonya Mallard, keynote speaker of the 2022 event and coordinator of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex in Mims.

The African American Read-In was recognized in 2020 as the Outstanding Educational Event of the Year by Florida Tech Student Life.

View images from previous Read-In events.

African American Chronology in Brevard County: A Living History

Compiled by Dr. Gordon Patterson; Photos curated by Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop

This historical timeline highlights significant events and key people in the development and growth of several areas of Brevard County, Florida. It is designed to be an interactive and inclusive compilation, and we welcome suggested verifiable additions. Please email detailed suggested additions and contact information to Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop, communication instructor, at rgallop@fit.edu.

YearHighlightSource
1860 U.S. Census identifies 15 slaves, 1 free “colored,” and 6 “mulattos” in Brevard. Total Population: 246 Florida Today, September 2, 1978
1866 William Gleason was commissioned by the federal government to perform a survey of Florida to see if it was suitable for “Negro” colonization as part of Reconstruction.  
1867

Sometime between 1867 and 1874, Balaam Allen, Wright Brothers, and Peter Wright, settle in what will become Melbourne.

Left to Right: Melbourne Founders Balaam Allen, Wright Brothers, Peter Wright

(Raley & Flotte, 2002, p. 11; Weona Cleveland, 1994, pp. 95-96)
1870 U.S. Census Count: 19 African Americans and 15 Native Americans residing in Brevard County. Total Population: 1,197.  
1872 The first public school, a one-room log cabin, was built south of Rocky Water Park on the west side of Pineapple Avenue, in Eau Gallie. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 122)
1880 First Post Office in Melbourne (Boone, 1988, p. 34)
1880 U.S. Census: 84 African Americans residing in Brevard County, 0 Native Americans. Total Population: 1,379.  
1880

Wright Brothers and Mary Silas Brothers settle on 7 ½ acres southside of Crane Creek.

Wright Brothers Home

 
1880

Andrew Gibson, barber and restaurant owner, Titusville’s first African American resident.

Andrew Jackson Gibson

 
1880

U.S. Census identifies 5 black men as heads of family in Melbourne; Peter Wright and Cassel Patterson listed as mail carriers; and Joseph Curley as a sailor. No occupations were listed for Balaam Allen and Wright Brothers. However, later research describes Allen and Brothers as citrus tree farmers, and Brothers later opening and operating a grocery store on Lipscomb Street.

Peter Wright Marker

 
1883 Melbourne’s First School on South Riverside Drive-in area known as “Tarheel”; with no desks, students wrote on slates. First students included Annie Goode, Edith Valentine, Isabelle Clohecy, Grace Goode, Fred Valentine, Alexander Goode, Helen Valentine, John Clohecy, Jessi Goode, Willie Brothers, Susie Allen, Lizzie Trot, George Washington Blaine, Balaam Allen, and LaFayette Allen. Attended for short time by both African American and white students. (Boone, 1988, p. 40); Melbourne Times, February 18, 1976 9A
1885 Mary and Wright Brothers, Salina and Balaam Allen, Carrie and Robert Lipscomb organize Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal, the first African American church in Melbourne.  
1889 Richard Goode, son of John Goode, builds a second one-room schoolhouse next to his home called Fountain Heights.  
1891

The first sanctuary for Macedonia Baptist Church (Melbourne) was built; the church was founded under a little oak tree in 1889.

Macedonia Missionary Baptist - Melbourne, FL

Melbourne Times, October 10, 1979 
1891

The Clifton School is built in North Merritt Island by neighbors Butler Campbell and Andrew Jackson for their children. The school thrived until 1910 when most of the local children were older and pursuing higher education.

The Clifton Schoolhouse

 
1893 Mary Sears Stone begins a career as a midwife, serving the community for 54 years, delivering over 1,000 babies.  
1893

Florida East Coast Railroad reaches Melbourne on Monday, July 3.

Florida East Coast Rail Station built in 1883. Sebastian FL

 
1900 U.S. Census: Florida’s population is 528,542. Brevard County’s population is 5,258. African American population of Melbourne is 281; Eau Gallie, 277. There are a total 1,074 African Americans in Brevard County.  
1900 Mary Norton Lawrence and her husband Edward Lawrence settle in Melbourne. Mary Lawrence described Melbourne as “a lonesome town.” Her son Harry Lawrence characterized the area that is now Florida Tech’s botanical garden as “Cathead…because the area was full of wild cats and panthers. We would see them peering at us from the trees. But they never harmed anyone.” (Weona Cleveland, 1988, p. 103)
1906 First Telephone Switchboard in Melbourne (15 telephones in city) (Boone, 1988, p. 34)
1908

Greater Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church is founded on May 23 by Edward Dennis Sawyer on Merritt Island.

Great Mount Olive AME Church

Melbourne Times, February 18, 1976 8A
1909 The first school for African American children in Melbourne on the corner of Lipscomb and Line Streets. One-room school with two rows of seats and two students per seat. Approximately 16 students attended. Mrs. May Piper was the first teacher.  
1910 Birth of Harry Lawrence, son of Mary Norton Lawrence and Edward Lawrence on May 20, Emancipation Day. (Weona Cleveland, 1988, p. 106)
1911 Melbourne’s first school bus, mule team, and wagon, driven by C.R. Johnson.  
1912

Scott Chapel (United Methodist) Church organized. John and Mary Stone were among the founders.

Scott Chapel Melbourne

(Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 97)
1912 Union Cypress Sawmill was established in Hopkins (Southside of Crane Creek); 300 men were employed. (Boone, 1988, p. 47)
1915 Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church is organized. Rev. George Scarlett was the first pastor.  
1918 Melbourne Public Library opens in Campbell’s store on lower New Haven. (Boone, 1988, p. 40)
1918 Macedonia Baptist Church and Allen Chapel obtain electricity. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 97)
1918 Many African Americans from Melbourne fought in WWI. A farewell reception was held for them in May at the Stone Hotel (rooming house) (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 97)
1919

Construction of a building later known as “Henegar Complex” began on New Haven Avenue. The cost was $6,400. The second building was constructed in 1926.

Henegar School Complex Marker

 
1919 First Bridge Across Indian River in Melbourne. Boone (1988, p. 33)
1920 African American students in Eau Gallie in the 1920s attended West Eau Gallie School located on the west side of the Eau Gallie Cemetery.  
1921 (Circa) Estella Jackson begins her career as a midwife. She will deliver more than 514 children. The charge for delivering a baby in the 1940s was $10. Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1923 Construction starts on Cocoa Junior High School, which is partially funded by the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The school serves African American students and includes Harry T. Moore among its teachers. The building became Monroe High School in 1947 but was closed following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision when its students were sent to integrate local public schools.  
1923 J.N. Tucker, the prominent citizen in Eau Gallie, works his way up from plumber’s helper to owner of a plumbing business. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1924 Melbourne Municipal Band organized (Boone, 1988, p. 40)
1926 Ten men seized James Clark, chauffeur for the traveling salesman, and lynched him on July 11 in Eau Gallie. The site of the lynching was near Parkway Drive and U.S. 1. It was known as Lynching Tree Drive until 1980 when the name was changed to Legendary Lane. Former Brevard County Commissioner Joe Wickham was a teenager in 1926. “They were mean,” Wickham told a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel. “They just took the law into their own hands. It was sad. Very sad.” ("Florida Frontiers “The Lynching of James Clark” | Florida Historical Society," 2016)
1928 Lipscomb Street Rooming House owned by Mary Lawrence burns down.  
1928 Melbourne’s First Hospital opens on site of the former Crenshaw Hotel.  
1928 Melbourne’s first airport is located west of where US 192 intersects I-95 (Boone, 1988, p. 39)
1929

Zora Neale Hurston writes her first book in Eau Gallie. Lives in a cottage rented from Lansing Gleason on the corner of Guava and Aurora Road.

Zora Neale Hurston

 
1930

Richard Stone, son of Melbourne pioneer John Stone, files patent for automobile turn signal.

(Weona Cleveland, 1988, p. 111)
1930 Melbourne Vocational School founded on site of what is today Brothers Park (John Stone school’s first superintendent) (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1933 Ten students in first graduating class of Melbourne Vocational School. Class included Norman Coates. Coates would graduate from Bethune-Cookman College and Florida A & M, returning to teach sixth grade in Cocoa. His pay was $50 a month. When he asked why white teachers received more, he was told “You don’t need as much money. Your lifestyle is different. You eat different kinds of food, live in different kinds of homes.” Coates observed, “How could we change our lifestyle if they would not pay us the same, they paid whites.” (Weona Cleveland, 1976)
1934

Harry T. Moore founds Brevard County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Harry T. Moore

(Rogers, 2021)
1937 Harry T. Moore and Thurgood Marshall file first lawsuit in the South demanding equal pay for African American and White teachers  
1937 Martha Hankins comes to south Melbourne. Opens Rescue House organizes two churches and makes seven trips to Monrovia, Liberia where she established a mission. Her granddaughter, Carol Williams Glanton, will go on to be a leader in Melbourne. (Raley & Flotte, 2002, p. 97)
1937 Ground broken on Brevard Hospital  
1938 Meeting minutes from the Brevard County School Board note white principals were paid $200-235 per month as compared to $82-110 for Black principals. (Zuckerman, p. 6A)
1939 Notice appears in Melbourne Times informing black citizens they could not vote in Democratic Primaries. It read: “The state Democratic Executive Committee has ruled that only white Democrats can vote in the Democratic Primaries.” (Zuckerman, p. 6A)
1940 J.N. Tucker, Willie Hubert, and Charlie Moore encourage Eau Gallie to hire an African American policeman. Their efforts were rebuffed. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1942 Colored Civic League forms in Melbourne  
1946 Brevard School Board terminates Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore’s teaching contracts. (Rogers, 2021)
1947 Azie B. Horne becomes first African American football coach at Melbourne Vocational School. Team was originally known as the “Flying Eagles.” Name was later changed to “Gophers.”  
1947 Leaders of Colored Civic League pleaded with Melbourne City Commission to employ a black policeman to patrol African American residential area. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 122)
1947

James R. Ryoland becomes Melbourne’s first African American policeman. He was given a badge, but no uniform. He carried his own gun and used a 1936 automobile on his patrols. Officer Ryoland served on the force for 20 years.

 

(Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 122)
1949 Harry T. Moore, Executive Director of the Florida NAACP, organized campaign to free Groveland Four who were accused of raping a white woman. A mob attacks jail in Groveland and National Guard is called to restore order. In 1951, Thurgood Marshall led team won appeal for two of the convictions.  
1950 U.S. Census Florida’s population: 2,771,305; Nonwhite 605,254, Brevard County 23,653. Melbourne 4,223.

Median number of years of school White 11.7; Nonwhite 6.3.
 
1950

Jesse Buggs, Sr., and others organize South Brevard NAACP, battling for Civil Rights. Rev. Buggs will serve as the organization’s president for 12 years. South Brevard NAACP pickets Van Croix Theater, segregated lunch counters, and spearheaded integration of Melbourne Golf Course. Rev. Buggs will end his career as pastor of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

Jesse Buggs, Sr.

 
1951 Zora Neale Hurston returns to Eau Gallie to live in cottage rented from Lansing Gleason until 1956; serves as a substitute teacher at Melbourne Vocational School; later, librarian at Pan American Library at Missile Test Project  
1951 Harriet and Harry T. Moore assassinated on Christmas Day.  
1952 Foster Eugene Thayer becomes Melbourne’s second African American policeman. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 123)
1953 Melbourne Vocational School burns down in December. Arson was suspected. No charges brought. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1955 Cavalier Men’s Club raise funds to assist Melbourne NAACP in fight for civil rights  
1957 Zora Neale Hurston moves to Ft. Pierce.  
1957 Melbourne Vocational High School opens. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1960 Rev. Jesse Buggs was defeated in his run for Melbourne City Council. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1961

Petition from Central Brevard NAACP Youth Council calling for complete desegregation of schools “For some time now we have waited fruitlessly for you to recognize and correct unfair practice of using the taxes of our parents to help foster the recreational programs for Cocoa High School and other white groups in our community…We believe the time is now for you to cease this practice of injustice and live up to your oath to serve the people.” 

 
1961 NAACP files lawsuit against Brevard School Board calling for desegregation of schools. ("Lawsuit Filed to Desegregate Brevard Schools," 1961)
1961

African American Civic Improvement Association in south Melbourne raises funds to build swimming pool in Brothers Park for Black residents.

 Brothers Park

(Weona Cleveland, 1985)
1961 Eau Gallie’s mayor calls off football game between white Eau Gallie High School and team from Jamestown, N.Y. because New York team has single Black player. Story made national news. (Weona Cleveland, 1985)
1962 Jon Brothers is defeated in his run for Melbourne’s City Council. (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1962 Jesse Buggs, Emmit Stadom, and Charles Stadom file suit to integrate Melbourne Golf and Country Club. (Weona Cleveland, 1985, p. 1B)
1962 In March, the NAACP holds rally at Macedonia Baptist Church protesting discrimination in Melbourne. (Zuckerman, p. 6A)
1963 Three-quarters of restaurants in Melbourne agree to 60-day trial period in which their restaurants will be integrated. (Weona Cleveland, 1985, p. 1B)
1964 Trial begins on NAACP lawsuit to desegregate Brevard Schools in Federal District Court in Orlando two- and one-half years after filing ("Brevard School Integration Trial to Start," 1964)
1965 Ted Nichols became Melbourne’s first African American on the city council. Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1965 South Brevard NAACP organizes a voter registration march beginning at Allen Chapel with 120 Black and White participants; Brevard Hospital in Melbourne is cited for maintaining segregation. Hospital administrator Harry Underhill responded, “until someone come up with definite charges, we don’t know what they are talking about.” (Weona Cleveland, 1985, p. 1B)
1967 Melbourne Vocational High School’s last graduating class before school is integrated. This was the first year that the graduates had a Yearbook and a senior trip  
1969 Federal District Court Judge George C. Young sets deadline for plan to desegregate Poinsett and Stone Middle School to February 20.  
1969 In June, 600 white parents, members of Association of Concerned Taxpayers in Melbourne, organize boycott of planned school bussing of their children to “all-Negro” Stone Elementary School.  
1969

Julius Montgomery is elected to Melbourne’s City Council.

Melbourne Councilman Julius Montgomery

(Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 98)
1969 Civil disorder in south Melbourne, rioters “bombed gas plants near Stone School and police blocked streets.” (White, 1987, p. 2B)
1970 Melbourne police used tear gas against African American youth in two-night disturbance in south Melbourne. (White, 1987, p. 2B)
1971

Defense Race Relations Institute founded at Patrick Air Force Base following serious disturbances at U.S. military facilities. By 1989, more than 10,000 students attend 16-week program to end racial discrimination within the ranks. Program is now known as Department of Defense equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

Defense Race Relations Institute, founded at Patrick Air Force Base in 1971. Program now known as the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

 
1972 Robert Lee Hadley hired as the Palm Bay Police Department’s first black police officer.  
1973 Federal Court approved Brevard School Board plan for desegregation of schools on May 11.  
1973 U.S. District Court Judge George Young notes that Brevard County School Board’s supplement plan for desegregation of Poinsett Elementary School did not provide for integration of grades one and two. Rev. W.O. Wells, Brevard educational coordinator for the NAACP based in Cocoa, criticized the supplement, noting only black children would be bussed. (Blane, 1973, p. 1B)
1973 In February, 4,000 Black students boycott Brevard Schools in protest of plans to bus 500 black students from Poinsett Elementary School. ("Poinsett Black Pupils Returning," 1973)
1976 Discrimination case against Brevard School Board dismissed without prejudice September 8.  
1977 Sarah Hodge, first African American air traffic controller at Melbourne Airport.  
1980

James Bartell joined the Palm Bay Fire Department as a firefighter. He eventually worked his way up to Battalion Chief in 1995. He was the first black battalion chief.

Melbourne Batalion Chief James Bartell

 
1981 Lynching Tree Drive renamed Legendary Lane in Eau Gallie. Melbourne Times, August 27, 1981
1982

Reverend Harvey L. Riley becomes Shepherd of the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Palm Bay. Rev. Riley owned and operated Riley’s Scientific Barber Shop in Cocoa, Florida for 20 years. He studied at Brevard Community College, the University of Central Florida, and the National Theological Seminary.

Rev Harvey Riley

 
1984 Melbourne City Council honors Harry T. Lawrence by naming park for his service to the community. Lawrence was organizer of the Colored Civic League (Weona Cleveland, 1994, p. 129)
1990 Brevard School Board Agenda item filed to modify BPS desegregation plan to approve keeping Clearlake, Kennedy, and McNair mainland 6-8 grade middle schools, designating McNair as a magnet school.  
1992 BPS Board modifies desegregation plan to designate Gardendale a magnet school.  
1993 Brevard County Commissioners vote to name county’s new courthouse “The Harry T. and Harriette Moore Justice Center.”  
1993

Rudolph V. “Rudy” Stone of Cocoa, son of Richard Stone, is appointed to Cocoa City Council. Known as a trailblazer in civil rights, education, community service, and business, he would be elected to a three-year term in November 1993 and appointed Deputy Mayor in 1995.

 
1999 State of Florida approved designation of the Moores’ home as a Florida Heritage Landmark.  
2000 U.S. Census Brevard population: 476,230; African American residents: 40,000; Latino residents: 21,970.

City of Melbourne’s population is 71,382; 9.3% of population is African American, another 5.5% are Latino.
 
2006

Florida Institute of Technology holds first Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award Ceremony. The first recipient is Julius Montgomery.

 
2013 BPS Board approved resolution to establish Stone Middle and Palm Bay High as new magnet schools.  
2013 In March, the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Post office is named in their honor in Cocoa.  
2019 Airport Blvd. in Melbourne is renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. culminating a 32-year long campaign. On July 14, 1987, Rev. Carol Williams Glanton asked the Melbourne City Council to rename University Boulevard in King’s honor without success. (@Florida_Today, 2019)
2020

Julius Montgomery awarded doctorate by Florida Institute of Technology.

Julius Montgomery Honored by Florida Tech

 
2021 Brevard School Board passes resolution officially recognizing unjust firings of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore in 1946. (Rogers, 2021)

Special Thanks To:

  • Retired Palm Bay Battalion Chief James Bartell
  • The City of Cocoa, Florida
  • The City of Melbourne, Florida
  • The family of the late Roosevelt Evans
  • Evans Center
  • Florida Today
  • Roz Foster, founder and president of the North Brevard Heritage Foundation, Inc.
  • Greater Allen Chapel AME Church
  • Greater Mount Olive AME Church
  • The family of the late Robert L. Hadley
  • Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc.
  • Teri Jones, author and historian in Melbourne, Florida
  • Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
  • Joseph McNeil, president, the Concerned Citizens Committee of South Brevard, Inc.
  • The family of the late Julius Montgomery
  • The family of the late James R. Ryoland
  • Scott Chapel United Methodist Church
  • Jan Stone, wife of the late Rudy Stone and owner of the historic Stone Funeral Home

View the Read-In bibliography.