QUINCY, Fla. — When Black business owner Kiara Smith looks across the street from the door of her downtown shop, she sees the grounds of the county courthouse. The building was constructed in 1912, but the site is historic for what happened there decades earlier.
“This was one of the biggest places for the slave trade,” Smith, 30, a Quincy native, said of the place where the enslaved were sold. “When you’re born in Quincy, there’s no doubt your great-great-great grandparents were slaves. And some of the White people here, they’re more than likely the descendants of the owners. That’s just the reality we live with.”
A 200-mile stretch along Florida’s northern border is dotted with small cities like Quincy, at its western end, where Black residents have historically made up a third or more of the population. But in the 145 years since the end of Reconstruction, only in the last five years has Quincy and most of North Florida been represented in Congress by a Black politician, Rep. Al Lawson (D).