Friday, December 3, 2010

Florida History - A lynching: Fort Lauderdale's day of infamy

By Jane Feehan        (Enter "Florida History" in search box to right for more history posts or visit

Some histories of the city fail to mention Fort Lauderdale’s day of infamy, July 19, 1935.

On that day, African American Rubin Stacy, 37, accused by a 30-year-old white woman of a knife attack in her Fort Lauderdale home, was seized from the custody of six Broward County deputies as they were transporting him to a jail in Dade County for “safekeeping.”

The mob, estimated by deputies to be about 100 men with faces covered and license plates hidden, took Stacy, kneeling in prayer, to an area near the house of accuser Marion Jones. There, they hanged and then shot him 16 times.  

Jones claimed Stacy knocked on her door asking for a glass of water and then followed her inside where he pulled a knife to her throat. Her screams, she said, frightened Stacy off. She later recanted the story. Some say Stacy was a homeless tenant farmer going from house to house asking for food.

It was widely believed that deputies, then led by the notorious Sheriff Walter Clark, were in collusion with the mob. They were, the story goes, angered by the slow legal proceedings of another case involving an African American.

Pictures of the lynching were shown to President Franklin Roosevelt in hopes of swaying him to support a federal anti-lynching law.  It didn’t have the impact hoped for; Roosevelt did not endorse the law because he feared losing Southern votes.

Rubin Stacy is buried in Fort Lauderdale’s Woodlawn Cemetery.Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Palm Beach Post, July 19, 1935
Palm Beach Post, June 13, 1937
Popular Justice: a history of Lynching in America

Tags: Fort Lauderdale lynching, Fort Lauderdale history, Rubin Stacy, Fort Lauderdale black history


Anonymous said...

Walter Clark was sheriff for 12 out 16 years.

Jane Feehan said...

You are correct ...