Florida History Horror

Evil and Ignorance

Florida slave toddler

I came across this Florida history horror and could not believe what I was reading. It’s true, acknowledged and verified by some individuals who experienced first hand one of history’s disgusting practices. African American babies used as gator bait. The babies of slaves. This was not common practice and there are no actual numbers that I could find on exactly how many families this happended to. Much is hearsay recorded on audio and retold by elder’s recollections.It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the idea of this happening. Such incredible hatred and ignorance.

African babies used as alligator bait

What Exactly is the Truth?

In a 1923 Time Magazine story:

  • From Chipley, Fla., it was reported that colored babies were being used for alligator bait. The infants are allowed to play in shallow water while expert riflemen watch from concealment nearby. When a saurian approaches his prey, he is shot by the riflemen. The Chipley Chamber of Commerce said the story was a “silly Lie, false and absurd.” However, it was widely reported in the American press during this time. Also, this practice was mentioned and depicted in the following:
  • Film: The practice has appeared in at least two films: “Alligator Bait” (1900) and “The ‘Gator and the Pickaninny” (1900). Two tales of boys used as alligator bait were told in “Untamed Fury” (1947).
  • Language: From at least the 1860’s up until the 1960’s “alligator bait” was a racial slur among whites for black children. In Harlem in the 1940’s it was applied to blacks of any age from Florida.
  • There is an account of it in Cooper Sun, a 2006 book written by Sharon Draper.
  • A blog from Ferris State University implies the practice continued into the 20th Century.
  • In 1908, the Washington Times reported that a keeper at the New York Zoological Garden had baited alligators with pickaninnies.
  • On September 21, 1923, the Oakland Tribune reported, “Pickaninnie bait lures voracious gator to death and mother gets her baby back in perfect condition. And $2.”
  • Look at these post cards and trinkets depicting children being used as bait. These existed between 1900-1960. Items such as these are found in the The Jim Crow Museum which is located on the Lower Level of Ferris State University FLITE Library in Big Rapids Michigan.

bai tpostcard-bait babies

 Another bait baby post card.

Trinket of Florida bait baby

Black baby's head pokes out of alligator mouth trinket

Many of the artifacts and media pieces within the Jim Crow Museum contain explicit images of violence, nudity, offensive language, and other mature themes. Recommended ages of 12 and over for visits.The Museum is free and open to the public.The Museum is dependent on donations. More museum information here.

Who Was Jim Crow?

Crow2

thomas-dartmouth-rice-1808-1860

According to history, a white entertainer by the name of Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) performed a song and dance act which was modeled after a slave. The slave’s name was Jim Crow. Rice painted his face black, spoke with an exaggerated imitation of African American English and acted like an idiot on the stage. Other actors did the same however, he was the most popular and he spent time touring in both the United States and England..By 1840, Rice suffered from a type of paralysis which limited his speech and movements, resulting in his death at age 52.

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4 Comments

  1. Tyler

    The poor babies. What a horror story. Brutality towards our fellow man has no end.

    Reply
    1. Donna L (Post author)

      I couldn’t agree with you more Tyler. Thanks for your feedback.

      Reply
  2. Francine

    It is amazing what the history books seem to leave out! Thank you for this article.

    Reply
    1. Donna L (Post author)

      You said it Francine. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

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