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Beyond IntegrationThe Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980$
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J. Michael Butler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627472

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627472.001.0001

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The Consequences of Powerlessness

The Consequences of Powerlessness

Chapter:
(p.220) Chapter Nine The Consequences of Powerlessness
Source:
Beyond Integration
Author(s):

J. Michael Butler

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627472.003.0010

The legacy of the 1970s Northwest Florida black freedom struggle influenced area race relations into a new decade. Tensions within and between local civil rights groups, as well as local and national chapter rivalries, further undermined the Panhandle movement, as did reorganization of the Human Relations Commission. In the aftermath of the Escambia High symbols controversy, ten African Americans filed suit to change the electoral process for the three crucial governing bodies. The plaintiffs, all middle to upper class professionals, insisted that only political changes, specifically the district-based rather than at-large election of the Escambia County Commission, Pensacola City Council, and Escambia County School Board, could improve social and economic conditions for black residents. Judge Winston Arnow agreed and ordered a modification of the local electoral process in McMillan v. Escambia County, et. al. The case also highlighted the economic disparities between the races, prejudiced practices that persisted in county schools, unequal social services in residential area, and the contentious relationship between local law enforcement agencies and African Americans. McMillan v. Escambia County, therefore, was the legal instrument through which local blacks pursued political power to bring economic and social change to Northwest Florida as the 1980s progressed.

Keywords:   Northwest Florida black freedom struggle, Human Relations Commission, Escambia County Commission, Pensacola City Council, Escambia County School Board, Judge Winston Arnow, McMillan v. Escambia County et. al

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