DELRAY BEACH — The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, 170 N.W. Fifth Ave., in Delray Beach, is presenting its newest exhibit, Fort Mose: Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom, this summer, May 2 through July 29.
The traveling exhibit from the Florida Museum of Natural History explores the history of Fort Mose, America’s first legally sanctioned free black community.
Based on five years of historical and archaeological research at Mose and in Spain, the 500-square-foot exhibit features this archaeological discovery and explores the African-American colonial experience in the Spanish colonies, from the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the time of the American Revolution. The story is little-known and offers a powerful alternative image to slavery as the dominant theme in African-American history.
Fort Mose was established in 1738 by escaped slaves from English Carolina who were granted their
freedom in Spanish St. Augustine. The men were made members of the Spanish militia, and the fort served as Florida’s first line of defense against the English to the north.
The black militias became an important source of defense as early as the 16th century, and the Mose militia served in a number of significant battles. The fort was abandoned in 1763, when Spain gave Florida to England, and the entire colony moved to Cuba.
The community of Fort Mose stands as a unique monument to the African Americans who risked and often lost their lives in the long struggle to achieve freedom. For more than 150 years, Fort Mose was buried from history on a remote island in the Florida marsh. The combined efforts of many different scientists, historians and legislators has uncovered Fort Mose and brought to light a long lost chapter of the colonial past.
The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is dedicated to showcasing the African-, Haitian- and Caribbean-American cultural contributions to the artistic landscape of Florida and the U.S., and welcomes school groups, summer camps and visitors.
For more information call 561-279-8883 or visit spadymuseum.org
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fort Mose: Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom exhibit
WHEN: May 2 through July 29, Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Friday; Saturday by appointment. Closed Sundays. Admission: $5; Members are free. For more information, call 561-279-8883 or visit www.spadymuseum.org.
WHERE: The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, 170 N.W. Fifth Ave., Delray Beach
COST: Admission $5; members free
CONTACT: Call 561-279-8883 or visit spadymuseum.org
Photo: COURTESY OF SPADY MUSEUM
WATERCOLOR: Artist’s reconstruction of Fort Mose circa 1752, based on historical and archaeological evidence.