After about 30 years, researchers compiled evidence showing that Manatee Mineral Springs Park in the City of Bradenton was home to escaped slaves. The community was thought to be called Angola.
Former slaves fled the United States to Florida because it was a safer Spanish territory at the time. Researchers say they came to the Bradenton park because of a small spring that flows just a block from the Manatee River. Now, the National Park Service has reached out, asking the park to apply for official designation of being part of the Underground Railroad Network.
Daphney Towns lives in Bradenton, but she’s from the Bahamas. She became interested in the park’s history about a year ago, and is now planning a festival in the summer called “Back to Angola.”
“We're gonna be bringing a delegation from 40-to-50 persons from the Bahamas," she says. "A lot of them are coming from Red Bays, which are actually descendants of the Seminole Indians. And they're going to be bringing some of their wood carving, their basket weaving, a lot of cultural food, costumes and a small parade where they will be depicting some of the ancestors.”
The “Back to Angola Festival” runs from July 13th through the 15th.
WGCU's Jessica Meszaros speaks with experts about the historical significance of this park.
Archaeologist and public interpreter for history and archaeology of the Bradenton area
Volunteer executive director for Reflections of Manatee, the original preservers of the Manatee Mineral Springs Park
Below is a pdf version of the information panels located at Manatee Mineral Springs Park