By Roberto Fernandez, III
On Sunday July 19, 2020 Broward County Mayor Dale Holness held a press conference at the NAACP office in Fort Lauderdale declaring July 19, 2020 as Rubin Stacy Day throughout the county. In a released statement, U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings said, “The lynching of Mr. Rubin Stacy on July 19, 1935 is a horrific stain on the history of South Florida and remains a tragedy in our community to this day.” Broward District Justice of the Peace Hugh Lester, who served as the coroner in 1935, documented on Rubin Stacy’s death certificate, the principal cause of death as “broken neck and gunshot wounds through heart” and the contributing cause of death was “lynching by mob.” Exactly eighty-five years after Rubin Stacy was lynched, Mayor Holness reminded those in attendance that “learning the history of racism in the community and country, and talking about structural racism, is crucial to eliminating the great inequities that exist.” Among the dignitaries in attendance and provided some comments for those gathered were Florida Representative Bobby DuBose, Florida Senator Perry Thurston, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, Parkland Commissioner Ken Cutler. Among those in attendance were, Sandra Blackmon Lane, George Lane, Chelsea Blackmon, Isaiah Blackmon, Sharrice Blackmon, Amaya Gelu, April Wallace, and Caroline Sallette members of Rubin Stacy’s family. Mayor Holness presented each family member with a copy of the proclamation.
In 2014, Boyd Anderson High School students, including Chelsea Blackmon, conducted research, and found that Rubin Stacy was laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale. In January 2019, Plantation High School students, History Fort Lauderdale, and then Mayor Barbara Sheriff conducted a soil collection at Woodlawn Cemetery for inclusion in the Equal Justice Institute’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial recognizes all the victims of lynching including Rubin Stacy. Currently, members of the community are trying to build a coalition of community members to bring a replica of the EJI Rubin Stacy memorial marker to Broward County. The group is also seeking to rename Davie Boulevard to Rubin Stacy Boulevard. Ken Cutler believes that this change will “act as a reminder of the need for us all to recognize the mistakes of the past and work towards an enlightened future.” Broward County’s Racial Equity Coordinator, Suzanne Bundy also attended and stated, “it was beautiful to leverage relationships formed by my organizing work for the Dismantling Racism Initiative to connect Rubin Stacy’s family with this significant event.” Mayor Holness announced at the press conference that Broward County is working towards establishing a Racial Equity Task Force. When asked about this, Ms. Bundy stated, “it is an honor our office will house the Racial Equity Task Force as we move forward with additional ways to honor Mr. Stacy, while expanding and fortifying the work toward racial equity throughout the county.”
Roberto Fernandez, III is a Broward County history and anthropology teacher. Since 2013, he has organized and led service-learning projects allowing high school students to volunteer and learn about Fort Lauderdale’s Woodlawn Cemetery. Mr. Fernandez can be reached at email@example.com