Black People are Invisible Presences in US History – Professor Tolliver Authors Proposals to Make The Invisible Visible in Apalachicola FL

A 2007 article in Southern Living offers these picture postcard images, “Morning comes gently to Apalachicola. Oyster boats and shrimp boats begin their daily pilgrimages as the sun rises on the Florida Coast. The lights twinkle on in this fishing village, its residents ready for another day in an unspoiled paradise. If you ever wondered if such a place still exists, yes, old Florida lives here.” In 2022, the newly revitalized Apalachicola, FL, a coastal panhandle city of 2500, features artisanal soaps and handicraft shops, seafood restaurants, and historical plaques. But the official “old Florida” narratives recorded on the historical plaques omit the history of the African American population of the City and the broader region.

By summer of 2024, Apalachicola will have a museum devoted to the history and culture of its African descended inhabitants thanks to a grant funded by the Florida Department of State’s African American Cultural and Historical Program. The City of Apalachicola has been awarded $1,000,000 to build the museum and the City Commission voted unanimously to provide a $250,000 cash match to secure the funds from the State.

“The addition of the Apalachicola Museum of African American Culture and History will enable the city to memorialize the contributions of African descended people to the region, the state and the nation,” reads the grant application authored by Willie Tolliver, now on fellowship leave from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and Valentina Webb, long active in leadership roles in the city. Apalachicola has been home to members of Professor Tolliver’s family since the early 1900s.