The Florida Legislature moved closer Tuesday to extending an historic apology to the families of four black men who were wrongly accused of rape in 1949 then tortured, murdered or unjustly imprisoned after one of the ugliest racist episodes in state history.
Known as the Groveland Four, none of the four men — Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — are still living, but members of their families were seated in the gallery of the House chamber when lawmakers voted 117-0 to unanimously join as sponsors of HCR 631. The measure exonerates the men and asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to expedite consideration of posthumous pardons.
“This resolution, while seemingly minute, symbolizes the great state of Florida looking those families in the eyes — families, with children, who grew up not knowing their fathers but only knew their records,” said Rep. Bobby DuBose, D-Fort Lauderdale, a sponsor of the bill. “This resolution is us simply saying, ‘We’re sorry’ — understanding we will never know or make up for the pain we have caused.” Story here.