Shared November 4, 2019
The hidden history of a Florida witch hunt.
Starting in the 1950s, a Florida state committee spent years stalking, intimidating, and outing hundreds of LGBTQ people. And they got away with it. Amid a national witch hunt for communists and an ascendant civil rights movement, a group of Florida politicians with a mission to preserve racial segregation in the state created a powerful group called the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee.
Commonly called the "Johns Committee" for the influential state senator Charley Johns who spearheaded it, the Committee went after civil rights activists by arguing they were backed by communists. But when those investigations failed, they turned to a new group to target: LGBTQ people. Today, over 50 years later, some Florida legislators are calling for the state to finally come to terms with this part of its history.
Note: The headline on this piece has been updated.
Previous headline: When Florida had a committee to terrorize gay people
In the Vox series Missing Chapter, Vox Senior Producer Ranjani Chakraborty revisits underreported and often overlooked moments from the past to give context to the present. Join her as she covers the histories that are often left out of our textbooks. Our first season tackles stories of racial injustice, political conflicts, even the hidden history of US medical experimentation.
Have an idea for a story that Ranjani should investigate for Missing Chapter? Send it to her via this form! http://bit.ly/2RhjxMy
Sign up for the Missing Chapter newsletter to stay up to date with the series: https://vox.com/missing-chapter
Explore the full Missing Chapter playlist, including episodes, a creator Q&A, and more! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
To learn more, check out some of our sources below:
Our DocumentCloud folder with the Florida state archives we used in the piece: https://www.documentcloud.org/search/...
Judith Poucher’s book on the history of the Johns Committee, “State of Defiance:
Challenging the Johns Committee's Assault on Civil Liberties” - http://upf.com/book.asp?id=POUCH003
Stacy Braukman’s book on the history of the Johns Committee, “Communists and Perverts under the Palms” - http://upf.com/book.asp?id=BRAUK001
Karen L. Graves’ book on the Johns Committee’s purges of K-12 teachers, “And They Were Wonderful Teachers” - https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books...
Watch the documentary, “The Committee,” on the history of the Johns Committee: https://www.pbs.org/show/committee/
Check out the documentary “Behind Closed Doors,” on the history of the committee: http://www.behindcloseddoorsfilm.com/...
Read about the push for a state apology by Florida State Rep. Evan Jenne and State Sen. Lauren Book: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/new...
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.
Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE
Follow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
Or Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H
A Brief History of Fat, and Why We Hate It
Strange answers to the psychopath test | Jon Ronson
How the US stole thousands of Native American children
The infuriating truth behind elevator buttons
The dark history of "gasoline baths" at the border
The massacre of Tulsa's "Black Wall Street"
How the Dutch Beat the Ocean | Why Amsterdam Has Canals
How highways wrecked American cities
Meet the Accidental Genius
The Spectacular Rise and Fall of WeWork
Inside Hong Kong’s cage homes
2016 Olympics: What Rio doesn’t want the world to see
America's wilderness is for sale