JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Marianna recognized a part of Jackson County history that’s been largely forgotten, but not any longer.
In 1919, Marianna veteran and first black lawyer Armstong Purdee had a dream to build this monument.
On Friday, his granddaughters made Purdee’s dream a reality.
“He was born in 1856 and died in 1937. So this monument was never realized. It never happened. So it took me approximately 6, 7 years to get to this point so this is a very historic day for me and my family, said Purdee’s grandmother Curley Spires Potter”.
36,000 Floridians served in World War I, 16,000 more than a third were African Americans. These names represent the 20 African-American men from Jackson County.
“He felt very compassionate about those soldiers because when they went to war, they were not allowed to fight with the white soldiers. The white soldiers refused to fight with the black soldiers. So at that time, the soldiers ended up in France, said Potter”.
Several people attended the long overdue unveiling honor at the Jackson County Court House.
“When I was watching it being unveiled I felt a sense of pride knowing that those veterans that served in World War One was being recognized. And also as a current veteran, it gives me the feeling of giving back to the community”, said Leon Kelly, a Desert Storm veteran.
The monument hopefully can educate future generations.
“It recognizes the role that color itself has played in the and in the World War. And so it is very important to this community. You know, we as a people want to be inspired by history. And we can’t be inspired unless we can identify with it. And this history here, we can identify” said Marinda Spires Liggans.
The event was immediately followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.