As we enter the New Year, we pause to express our deep gratitude to the NAACP branches and to the various business and fraternal organizations whose contributions have helped us to launch a full-time program in Florida. Among the organizations that have already responded to appeals sent out by the Conference Budget Committee are: (1) Central Life Insurance Company ‚ 4500.00, (2) Florida State Teachers' Association - $250.00, (3) Lily White Benefit Association - $100.00, (4) Tampa Elks - $50.00, (5) Afro-American Life Insurance Company - $25.00 (6) Cocoa Elks ‚ $10.00, (7) Good Neighbors, Inc. - $5.00, (8) Davis Service Station - $5.00. We also are grateful to the National Office for sending Mr. Rufus W. Smith, one of Florida's native sons, to help work with our branches during the months of November and December. Mr. Smith did much to help stimulate our work during his tour of the state.
Our work is growing steadily. The end of 1946 found us with 63 branches in Florida. Among our new branches are Greensboro (Gadsden County), Jackson County, and Crescent City, Plant City and Apopka have reached their quotas for organizations. Lakeland and Oakland are near their goals, and Hastings, Sarasota, Apalachicola, and other places are working toward branches. Interest in our youth work also is gradually increasing. Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach have recently organized youth councils. Students at Florida A.&M. College plan to review their College Chapter, and Orlando, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee, Melbourne, and other places are working on councils. We urge all of our branches to give special attention to this phase of the work during the early months of the New Year. Florida should have 25 or 30 youth councils and college chapters by the time of our next state youth meeting in August.
The New Year finds us still fighting the forces of injustice that seem to beset our people on every hand. In our last communication we mentioned the case of police brutality in New Smyrna, where rough handling by a deputy sheriff caused a Negro woman to have a miscarriage and lose her baby. We are pressing for action on this matter in Federal Court. Other cases of police brutality have since been uncovered in Haines City, Lake Wales, apopka, and other places. Unfortunately, there are many peace officers who seem to think that their most sacred duty is to beat and intimidate Negro citizens. This is a situation that demands our best attention.
During the past few weeks E. E. Callaway and Mark O'Quinn, Florida NAACP attorneys, have been busy with the Andrew Lewis Case in Polk County. Lewis was first booked on a charge of "intended rape", but later the charge was changed to "breaking and entering". Evidently, nobody saw the face of the person whose hand was pushed through the window screen of the white girl's room. Yet, officers broke down the door of the Lewis home and beat Lewis so severely that they found it necessary to carry him to the County Hospital that night. Later they continued to beat Lewis in the Bartow Jail in an effort to make him confess. Through all of this, Lewis has declared his innocence. In this case our attorneys also are attacking the systematic exclusion of Negroes from jury service.
Again, we must remind you of the urgent need of building up a strong State Conference Legal Fund. All of these cases deserve our attention. The Lewis Case alone in costing $1000.00 for action in the Polk County Circuit Court, and the cost will be greater if an appeal becomes necessary. We solicit the financial assistance of all Florida branches in our efforts to push these cases through. Make check or order for your contribution to K. S. Johnson, Sanford. Mail the order to the executive secretary at Mims. Remember that freedom is always bought with a price. Let us therefore combine our forces and make a more determined effort to secure for ourselves a fuller enjoyment of our Constitutional rights.
Harry T. Moore
Harry T. Moore
Florida State Conference, NAACP
Mims, Fla. ‚ Jan. 13, 1947
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