Tuesday, October 22, 2013

USF Researchers refuse to examine Dozier documents

One of the boxes of documents that USF researchers
refused to examine while "researching" Dozier School.
While claiming they are researching the "truth" about the small cemetery at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, scientists and students from the University of South Florida (USF) today refused to even look at thousands of pages of documents about the school.

The awkward situation developed when a representative of a local historic preservation group contacted me to indicate they had been asked by USF researcher Antoinette Jackson to meet and discuss any documents relating to Dozier that might be in their collection.  Since the organization does not have any Dozier-related documents, its representative asked me if I would be willing to make my collection of thousands of pages of Dozier material available to the researchers.

I agreed to do so and boxed up a wealth of Dozier documentation from my collection and carried it to Marianna so the USF researchers could access it more easily.  After waiting nearly 2 hours, I was told that Jackson and her team members refused to even so much as look at it.

Obviously, they didn't want to so much as breathe the same air as me, even if that meant ignoring thousands of pages of material that sheds considerable light on the truth about the deaths and graves at the former Marianna reform school. 

Not only is this sad, it is silly. It is hard for me to imagine that any serious researcher would turn down the chance to view a collection containing thousands of pages of documentation on a topic of such interest to them.  But, sadly, that is the case with USF. 

The school apparently would rather remain in the dark than so much as talk politely with someone who disagrees with them and their tactics.  Perhaps the researchers would do well to learn that people can be polite, even though they disagree with you. 

Since $600,000 in taxpayer money is being spent on this fiasco, I would have assumed that they would want their research to be as accurate as possible.  I guess I assumed wrong.

The school (USF), as you probably know, is in the process of exhuming graves from the small, known cemetery at Dozier School, even though 80% of the families with loved ones buried there have not been contacted. So far they have found between 30 and 40 humans buried in coffins according to standard mortuary and religious practices of the early 20th century, along with a dog buried in an old cooler.

They have reported finding no graves outside of the traditional cemetery limits, despite often wild claims by a group of former students seeking large payments from the state.

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