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Florida Football: 1955

December 1955. "Football game in Florida." Kodachrome transparency by Phillip Harrington for the Look magazine assignments "How It Looks From the South," "Florida's Prophets of Boom" and "What Is Florida?" View full size.

December 1955. "Football game in Florida." Kodachrome transparency by Phillip Harrington for the Look magazine assignments "How It Looks From the South," "Florida's Prophets of Boom" and "What Is Florida?" View full size.

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Is this really a football game?

This seems to be something other than a regular football game - I can count four different marching band groups in the stands. Perhaps a band competition of some kind? (The one seemingly black person among the whites that J.W. Wright pointed out looks like he's part of one of the bands - perhaps from an integrated high school.) It looks like a very hot day - many of the women are wearing identical looking paper hats to get some relief from the sun, perhaps for sale at the stadium.

On a personal note, I grew up in Central Florida, and the high school I attended, which was built in 1969, had two side-by-side cafeterias. The public schools in my city were integrated by then but I'm quite sure that the cafeterias were built the way they were to make sure there was still de facto segregation at lunch.

Where's Waldo?

There are a few African Americans sitting in the 'whites' section with seemingly no problem.

For example:

Used the Wrong Water Fountain

Duplicate facilities were the norm in Oklahoma when I was a boy (1950s). Once in a big grocery I drank from a fountain that said "Colored," and caught holy H from my grandmother. I am white.

Transparently Opaque

Kodachrome, but black and white.

Jim Crow

I was born and raised in Kansas and had very little exposure to Jim Crow laws until about 1954. We had black students in our school and we never thought a thing about it. They were just other students trying to get through high school like the rest of us. In about 1954 my family took a trip down through Tennessee and one Sunday we stopped at a drive-in to get something to eat. Whites were given the priviledge of curb service but Blacks had to go around to the side to pick up their orders. Being a Sunday, all the Blacks were dressed up just coming from church and were very well dressed. A car pulled up next to us loaded up with what I can only say were "white trash". They got curb service, since they were white, and proceeded to throw trash all over the parking lot and were a very disgusting bunch. That was my first exposure to discrimination and I just could not imagine it.

The same all over?

I remember seeing the duplicate facilities in the Winter Park, Fla. train station, and thinking that it was the same as where we came from up North in Pennsylvania, except we had them labeled "Men" and "Women"!

Separate but Equal

Growing up overseas (Asia) I was pretty ignorant of jim crow. Later in life, learned what it was about from a friend that was sent in 1965 to Georgia Tech for a year. He and some buddies went bowling one night. When he went to get a burger, he was told to "go over there" where non-whites were served. His buddies came over, forced the person to serve them all. They sat in the whites section. They also never went back there.

I asked him how he could tolerate working for an American firm after he was treated that way in the US. His comment was really pretty simple and telling: Not everyone is that way. And he is right.

Grim reminder

This photo reminds me of the first time I went down to Florida, Jacksonville, in 1967. As a 17 year old from New York, I remember the separate bathrooms and water fountains, the images of which burned into my mind. It was a side of humanity that I had not seen before.


I recall a photojournalism prof using this photo to demonstrate the possible impact of frame composition. He also taught us great techniques like "The Ol' Switcheroo": how to palm "the good stuff" and give a "placebo roll" to the cop who's demanding the film's surrender.

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