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Monday, March 30, 2009

'State of Florida, Why In The Hell Didn't You Protect Me?' Charles Rambo, Dozier School for Boys Marianna Fl.

'State of Florida, Why In The Hell Didn't You Protect Me?' Charles Rambo, Dozier School for Boys Marianna Fl.

For more than 50 years, Charles Rambo did not dwell on the 11 months he spent at Florida Industrial School for Boys, now called the Dozier School for Boys Marianna Fl.

But about a month ago, after hearing the stories of other men who endured savage beatings at the reform school during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Rambo's own experience as a skinny 12-year-old in 1955 came rushing back.

He remembered the searing pain of the 18 licks he was given during his first and only trip to the school's now infamous White House, how he was hit so hard his body lifted clear off the bare bed and the weeks it took for the bloodied blisters called "slabs" to heal.

He recalled the grueling 16-hour days working in the school's dairy and a dehumanizing culture that valued livestock over children.

The State of Florida , Department of Agriculture profitied from the "slave labor" of the Reform School children on the farms, that is one of the reasons that the State is listed in the White House Boys law suit.

On the road between his native Tallahassee and his home in Atlanta, the 67-year-old minister and coach pulled over and wept. "
State of Florida, why in the hell didn't you protect me?" he recounted, choking back tears at a news conference Friday. "Why didn't you protect other young people? Why?"

Rambo is the first black man to publicly come forward about his time at what is now called the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. Stories of horrific abuse at the formerly segregated reform school began to make news last year. Four men, known as the White House Boys, have filed a class-action lawsuit in Pinellas County against the state and two former employees.

"In 1955 and 1956, if the White House Boys were treated like that, what in the world do you think the black boys were treated like?" Rambo asked.

The 32 graves behind the Dozier School for Boys are headed with crosses without names. The White House Boys believe that some of the graves contain the bodies of children beaten and/or abuse to the point of death (the "black boys got it the worst") during the reform school's 108 years of operation in racist and KKK linked Marianna Fl. Rambo's purpose for telling his story now is simple, he said: "To make sure nothing like this remotely happens to any young men — white, black, blue or green — ever again." Closure on his part, Rambo said, is likely out of reach. His experience at the boy's school is a part of him. "I was 25 before I could sleep in the dark, and I'm still leary of the dark now," he told reporters, "I sleep with the TV on."

A veritable torture chamber, being taken to the White House was to be feared because some did not return.What could get a boy sent to the White House? Talking to a black inmate, saying the wrong thing, or having the wrong facial expression at the wrong time could get one sent to the White House building, which contained two rooms where the beatings and abuses took place.
One room was for black inmates, the other for whites.

There will be some who will scoff at the governor's request that the

Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate who is buried on what once was Dozier property. Chances are any perpetrators are dead or very old and in an era of tight state resources, some would say FDLE should be focused on more recent crimes.

But a full accounting of what occurred at Dozier is as important as reopening the investigations of the Rosewood massacre, lynchings and the slaying of civil rights-era activists in Florida.

Dozier School for Boys guard, Troy Elmer Tidwell was 10 years old and living in Marianna Fl when Claude Neal (Mr. Neal appears to have been innocent of any crimes and was hung and mutilated just for being "black") was lynched in Marianna by the "Lynch Committee of Six,".

"Men, women, and children were numbered in the vast throng that came to witness the lynching. It is reported from reliable sources that the little children, some of them mere tots, who lived in the Greenwood neighborhood, waited with sharpened sticks for the return of Neal's body and that when it rolled in the dust on the road that awful night these little children drove their weapons deep into the flesh of the dead man".

Claude Neal's body was hung to a tree on the northeast corner of the Marianna courthouse square and left hanging for over 24 hours.

ACTUAL NEWSPAPER NOTICE..NEGRO LYNCHING..Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, and in the Marianna Daily Times-Courier October 26, 1934. "Big Preparation Made for Lynching Tonight". GREENWOOD, Fla., Oct. 26—Local citizens have been preparing all day for the lynching of a negro scheduled to take place here tonight. This morning a mob seized Claude Neal, 23, from a jail in Brewton, Ala., where he had been held in connection with the murder of white girl which took place here several days ago.

At noon a “Committee of Six” representing the mob announced a timetable for the lynching which was given in newspapers and over the radio as follows:
At sundown the negro will be taken to the farm two miles from here where Miss Lola Cannidy, the murder victim, lived. There he will be mutilated by the girl’s father. Then he will be brought to a pig-pen in the middle of a cotton field nearby, where the girl’s body was found, and killed.


Finally his body will be brought to Marianna, the county seat, nine miles from here, and hung in the court house square for all to see. The negro is presently being held at an undisclosed location in a swamp along the Chattahoochee River, not far from the Cannidy farm. “All white folks are invited to the party,” said the announcement issued by the mob’s Committee of Six. (See notation of the "timetable" published in the Marianna Daily Times-Courier, before the murder of Clude Neal)

As a result, thousands of citizens have been congregating all afternoon at the Cannidy farm. Bonfires have been started, piles of sharp sticks have prepared (FOR THE CHILDREN), knives have been sharpened and one woman has displayed a curry-comb with which she promises to torture the negro.

While the Marianna Fl, (Claude Neal), lynching may have been the last "spectacle" lynching in the nation, many other lynchings of a less publicized nature would follow.

In fact, Marianna would be the site of another lynching less than 10 years later when Dozier School for Boys sadistic guard Troy Tidwell was now 20, the KKK also had a large pressence in Marinna Fl that appears to still influence the area....

October 2, 2008, Marianna teacher ‘told students that ‘CHANGE’ stood for’ NIGGER...According to parents and students in Greg Howard’s seventh-grade social studies class, Howard on Friday, Sept. 26 asked the class a question regarding Obama’s call for change, and proceeded to write out what the letters C-H-A-N-G-E stood for.

“She told me that he wrote on the board ‘Can You Help A Nigger Get Elected', and then laughed about it,” said Shelia Christian, a mother of one of Howard’s students. Marianna Teacher Greg Howard was suspended without pay for 10 days, was relieved of his football coaching duties, and will be transferred to the Jackson County Adult Education program, according to the Jackson County

Confronting its past will help Florida build a better future for all its citizens. And if you don't think that youngsters in
state custody still face threats, remember Martin Lee Anderson, the young inmate who died after a confrontation with guards in a Panama City boot camp in 2006.

The FDLE is asking anyone who may have information about possible abuse at the school to call (850) 410-8240, or e-mail
ExecutiveInvestigationsComplaints@fdle.state.fl.us.

I would also like to hear from any of the "survivors" of the Florida State Reform School for Boys in late 1950's or early 1960's or anyone who has additional information about the abuse inflicted by Troy Tidwell "the one armed man", contact Bill Warner Private Investigator at WBI Inc Private Detective Agency Sarasota Fl, e-mail wbi@comcast.net or phone toll free 1-866-755-8453, my website www.wbipi.com .