• The Florida Star is a publication based out of Jacksonville, Florida that is dedicated to covering African American life and events. It was founded in 1951 by Eric Simpson and has been helping to shine a light on black stories since its creation. Amongst the Florida Star’s strong ties to the African American Community inside of Jacksonville, it was also a publication that spoke on important events happening outside of the city as well. 

    The Florida Star was a heavy force in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, covering black stories other news outlets were not interested in speaking on. The publication has a long legacy, and it has continued to grow well into the present day. 

  • Over the last couple of decades, the Florida Star has been under great leadership; this has allowed the newspaper to reach great heights over the years. The most notable leader to spearhead the Florida Star is the Founder and first Editor and Chief, Eric Simpson.

    • Eric Simpson was a committed writer, Civil Rights activist, and businessman. He and his wife, Mary Simpson, were able to build a successful weekly black newspaper that grew famous for its head-on approach to crime and civil rights. 
    • Simpson used the newspaper as a way to empower his community by uplifting them through stories of triumph and informing them by writing articles centered around important black events. 
    • He was a champion for his newspaper’s consistency and authenticity. Simpson headed the paper until he passed in 1994. The same year, he was recognized by the Florida Senate for his outstanding work and the active role his contributions played in the community. 
    • In 2003, Eric Simpson became the first African American inducted into the Florida news Hall of Fame, continuing to permanently leave his mark in the world of news and publication.
  • Since the 1950s, the Florida Star has used its voice to be a force within the journalism community and black community. Even through tough adversities, they were able to keep fighting. The Florida Star was able to report on the horrific event of Axe Handle Saturday, survive two arson attacks to their headquarters, and conquer a lawsuit that made it all the way to the supreme court.

    Here are some of the important events and dates you should know!

    On August 24, 1960, Eric Simpson reported about the civil unrest taking place in Downtown, Jacksonville. After a week of demonstrations at white-only lunch counters in different department stores, young black students and NAACP members were still fighting. Simpson gave clear and concise, almost “prophetic” words on the movement now taking over black communities in Jacksonville. Not even four days later, on August 27th, 1960, the event known as Axe Handle Saturday took place Downtown in Hemming Park, now known as James Weldon Johnson Park. Simpson reported on the vicious attack as well. 

    In 1977, the Florida Star headquarters, located on Jacksonville’s Myrtle Street at the time, was victim to an arson attack. This damaged the Star’s entire lobby.  

    The Florida Star was widely known for its impeccable and raw crime coverage. In 1983, their best quality caused a lot of trouble for them. The Florida Star caught major fire and a hefty legal battle when they printed the name of a rape victim. This led to the U.S. Supreme court case Florida Star V. B.J.F. Originally, the victim sued the publication and was given 97,500 in damages. However, the Florida Star appealed, getting their case to the Supreme court where the previous ruling was then overruled.

    Sadly, in 1993, the Florida Star became victim to another arson attack. This time, their whole building and most of their archives were destroyed. This day was coined the Florida Star's Great Fire. Through this difficult time, the Simpson family was able to publish the weekly paper only one day late! 

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