Goldsboro Museum sheds light on ‘rise and fall’ of once thriving all-black Seminole County town

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida. – The Goldsboro Museum says it celebrates Black History Month every day of the year and this month it plans to highlight some of the stories that can be found in its catalog.

“It’s the day the Ku Kux Klan kicked Jackie Robinson out of Sanford Memorial Stadium,” Pasha Baker said as she led a tour of the Goldsboro museum.

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Baker is the director of the Goldsboro Historical Museum and recounts just one of the little-known facts that can be found within the walls of the museum.

Incorporated in 1891, the museum tells the story of Goldsboro, a community in Seminole County that was once a prosperous all-black town founded by one of two brothers.

“So Joseph Clark founded Eatonville in 1877, his brother a few years later, Mr. William Clark founded Goldsboro, and they were both actually businessmen,” Baker said.

Goldsboro lost its charter in 1911 after it was stolen by the town of Sanford.

Baker says that left Goldsboro residents more than $10,000 in debt, and even after townspeople filed a lawsuit, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The town of Sanford won and the lost money was never refunded.

All of this was documented and saved by Mrs. Francis Oliver, Baker’s great-aunt, who spent over 40 years collecting stories and documents.

“And then started these museums with his retirement check. She was a former Midway Elementary teacher, had over 30 years of service in that field and continued her lifelong commitment to service serving the community with these museums and now it’s six entities,” said Baker.

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Entities that come in many forms, from a museum to a cultural garden, all of which fall under the Goldsboro West Side Community Historical Association.

Baker said she was determined to continue her aunt’s work.

“It’s one of the ways we can drive change,” Baker said, “it’s one of the ways we can heed the warnings and not repeat the same mistakes, and the story is one of your best teachers.”

Teachers, Baker said, who come in stories like Georgia Black’s.

As one of the first recorded transgender people in the country, Baker said Black’s story teaches how being a good person can change perceptions.

Black lived as a sitter in the early 1900s and became so popular that when the coroner revealed her sex at birth after death, people didn’t care, Baker said.

“No one cared because she was just a good person and that’s the kind of feeling you get when you come to Goldsboro today… We treat people the way they should be treated and that’s a bit the Goldsboro rule, it’s the Goldsboro way.” Baker explained.

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There are more stories like Black’s and even one where she tells how Jackie Robinson was saved from a former Goldsboro mayor.

Another interesting fact, Baker also said that the outdoor cultural garden tells the story of cabbages.

She says many people don’t know this, but cabbage was a European plant that was brought to the United States during the time of slavery.

The slaves at the time recognized the plant, which Baker said resembled another plant found in Africa.

Baker said people knew it had to be cooked long and slow with seasonings, which eventually led to the southern cooking tradition of collard greens that we know today.

The Goldsboro Museum has a list of events you can find here for Black History Month.

Black History Month at the Goldsboro Museum. (Goldsboro Museum)
Black History Month at the Goldsboro Museum (Goldsboro Museum)

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