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‘Through Our Eyes’: Panelist seek to encourage surrounding communities and generations after

through-our-eyes‘Through Our Eyes’: Panelist seek to encourage surrounding communities and generations after

The panelist are: l to r: Yvette Culver-DuBose, moderator; Bobby B. DuBose, State Representative; Bobby R. Henry, Sr., panelist; Beauregard Cummings; Cathleen Polsky; Zoey Terry, panelist; family members Carol and Wade Greenlee, panelist; Ben Polsky, Honoree; Tamera Gant and Stitchez, event hostess.

By Mya Monee Carr

Fort Lauderdale, FL – “If we don’t know our history we are destined to repeat it,” one panelist stressed during the roundtable discussion. These panelists took their time to share their own real life experiences and opinions about the issues faced in today’s society.

Giving the audience a chance to understand stories like the Groveland Four through the eyes of other African-American people.

State Representative Bobby B. DuBose took the “Groveland Four” story, after being inspired by God one night, and formulated a way to share it.  After hearing the story, he was inspired to find a way to share it with everyone.

The Groveland Four (or the Groveland Boys) were four African American men: Charles Greenlee, Earnest Thomas, Walter Irvin and Samuel Shepherd, who were accused of raping a 17-year-old white woman in Lake County, Florida. This all took place in 1948, during the years of segregation and white supremacy.

While officials were on the hunt to find the men, one escaped, afraid for his life. Soon after, Thomas, who was killed as a suspect by a posse after leaving the area, was found dead by some railroad tracks. Meanwhile, the other three boys – Greenlee, Shepherd and Irvin – were beaten while in jail to coerce confessions, but Irvin refused to admit that he did anything wrong.

The end result is detrimental.

The news media at that time published an article with a picture of four electric chairs before the trial, predicting their sentence.

The three victims were each sentenced at trial by an all-white jury; at 16 Greenlee was sentenced to life. Shepherd and Irvin were sentenced to death.

By order of the  United States Supreme Court,  a retrial was ordered.  Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, represented the defendents.

Sheriff Willis McCall, in November 1951, shot both Shepherd and Irvin while they were in his custody.  McCall said “they tried to escape.” Shepherd died and Irvin survived by playing dead. Irvin, at a second trial, was convicted again and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life by the governor in 1955. In 1968 he was paroled.

“This story isn’t featured in history books”, said DuBose. “We thought this event could help spread the word about our history, “Through our eyes”.

This event was held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. As a short film played, the Kappa league re-enacted the heart-wrenching tragedy. This is an annual event that looks forward to expanding every year.

Mya Monee Carr is a Multimedia Journalist senior at Florida Memorial University and inter with the Westside Gazette

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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