The Marianna, Florida. Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, also known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys,was a place that kept both black and white boys between 1900 and 2011. The reform school was known for setting boys straight, but also for treating them horribly in the process.
Richard Huntly, John Bonner, Johnny Gaddy and Arthur Huntley are a part of an organization called ” Black Boys At Dozier Reform School.” The men say that when they were young, they were in pain from beatings and abuse that occurred while they were at the school.
“I worked as a field crew, and my job was to take the garbage to the pit and I seen what appeared to be human fingers and bones that didn’t look like a cow or animal bones, one of the boys said you better shut up if you want to live,” said Gaddy.
Richard Huntly says that when he was a boy, he had part of his toe cut off while working in the sugarcane fields. The memories are painful for the men, since they endured horrors that they’ve rarely spoken of until today.
“I remember distinctly the beatings I got – and the beatings still haunts me to this day, Bonner says,” I get choked up inside just thinking about the – beatings.”
Huntley says that he was severely beaten once for not being able to remember the name and face of a cow he was supposed to milk.
The Documentation of the Boot Hill Cemetery (8JA1860), At the Former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Marianna, Florida., Interim Report (Division of Historical Resources Permit No. (1112.032) does an investigation into the graves at the Boot Hill Cemetery in Marianna for Boys.
The deaths, which occurred between 1914 and 1973, involved 98 people, most of them being boys between the ages of 6 and 18.
“Reports of children being brutally whipped and chained to the walls in irons as well as peonage cases was reported. After spending countless of hours researching peonage cases in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., I found many cases of peonage in Florida that were reported to the Department of Justice by Mary Grace Quackenbos, special assistant U.S. attorney.”
In 1963, sixteen blacks were arrested for a sit in at a lunch counter. Four of the juveniles, Samuel White, Audrey Nell Edwards, Joe Ann Anderson and Willie Carl Singleton were arrested. The four teens, known as the “St. Augustine Four” were in county jail for a month and the boys spent another five months in the Dozier reform school for trying to get a hamburger at a lunch counter. Many of these stories remain untold, and there are probably many, many more.
Additional investigations are being done to examine the depths of the tragedy.
You can read more here.