The Prisoner

My co-worker MK got a question on Ask-a-Librarian, our state-wide virtual reference service, about some photographs from the Florida Memory archive.  They were of a political rally in the black, Frenchtown section of Tallahassee in 1971, in support of Bill Johnson

"Free Bill Johnson, Political Prisoner" read the bumper stickers being handed out and displayed in some of the pictures, which were taken on July 31, 1971.  "Who was Bill Johnson?", MK's querent wanted to know.

MK asked me if it rang any bells  No, I had not come up to Tallahassee until 1974, and though I was somewhat politically active here then, I'd never heard of Bill Johnson.  But I had a feeling, which proved to be correct, that these photos might have been from the John Buckley Collection.

I can't say that John was a friend, but I knew him as I knew some other local leftists from the civil rights/anti-war days.  I remember listening to him hold forth at The Alley, a downtown watering hole.  I liked him because he thirsted for justice, but did not hew to any party line.

MK looked at our microfilm of the Tallahassee Democrat around the date, and I did too, but there was no coverage.  It is possible that the FSU student paper, The Florida Flambeau, covered the rally, but we don't have microfilm for it.

The Reverend C. K. Steele, who played a large part in the Tallahassee Bus Boycott, spoke.

The band, "Daddy Twofoot", performed.  

That looks like the old Red Bird Cafe on the left.  Not a great success, apparently.  But John Buckley was there.  And whatever happened to Bill Johnson?


Anonymous said...

Do you know Claude K from church? I believe he has pretty amazing files on local history. Just a thought ... Enjoyed your reflections. Per usual!

Brett said...

I know of him. I've used his index of burials for the Old City Cemetery. Good suggestion, couldn't hurt to ask.

Thanks for reading!