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"Lynching in LaBelle"

20201201-121655-Henry Patterson cmyk.jpg
Brandon Jett
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Memorial bench in Barron Park in LaBelle.

In 1926 a Black man named Henry Patterson who was working on road construction in LaBelle was wrongfully accused of assaulting a white woman and then lynched by dozens of white residents. The accusations were proven false, including being refuted by the woman, and 14 white men were arrested for his murder, and a grand jury trial began in Fort Myers. But, the trial fell apart and nobody was indicted in the end.

While lynchings were not uncommon in the south at the time, what made this case different was the attempt to prosecute. We learn more about the lynching of Henry Patterson with Florida Southwestern State College history professor Brandon Jett. He is creating a digital history project called “Lynching in LaBelle” that, once complete, will include primary and secondary sources with information related to the lynching, biographies of those involved in the trial, official documents from the investigation, court records, and other artifacts that he and three students in his African American History course collected. You can find it at lynchinginlabelle.com.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week. Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.