|T. Thomas Fortune|
Marianna-born journalist and civil rights leader
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Timothy Thomas Fortune was born into slavery at Marianna on October 3, 1856, but was destined to demonstrate just how far Americans could rise with education, hard work, inspiration and determination. He has been called "Tuskegee's Point-Man" for his support of Booker T. Washington and the innovative programs at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University).
Based on Fortune's own memories, much about his childhood has been misrepresented by modern writers. His father, Emanuel Fortune, was a slave of Joseph W. Russ, prominent Jackson County resident. Russ not only encouraged Emanuel's education, but entrusted him with the management of his large leather tannery. (Note: Russ was the father of the Joseph W. Russ, Jr. who later built Marianna's beautiful Russ House).
Father of T. Thomas Fortune
According to the later writings of T. Thomas Fortune, he and his parents were treated extremely well by Russ and Moore. He grew up playing with Moore's four children and later remembered that he was never treated as anything other than a member of the family during the eight years that he lived in slavery.
When the War Between the States (or Civil War) came to an end, Emanuel Fortune enrolled his son in the new public school established in Marianna by the Freedman's Bureau. He excelled in his studies and quickly gained the attention of the publisher of the Marianna Courier newspaper, Frank Baltzell.
|Marianna as it appeared when T. Thomas Fortune lived there.|
State Archives of Florida/Memory Collection
T. Thomas Fortune went on to work at newspapers in Jacksonville, Washington, D.C. and New York over the years that followed. He enrolled at Howard University but was forced to withdraw after a few semesters due to financial restraints.
|T. Thomas Fortune|
T. Thomas Fortune cultivated the friendship of Booker T. Washington during the 1890s and became a leading advocate of Washington's visionary Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama. He helped with the preparation for publication of Washington's landmark book The Future of the American Negro.
|Home of T. Thomas Fortune in New Jersey|
Courtesy Library of Congress
T. Thomas Fortune died on June 2, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Signs designating Jackson County as his birthplace stand on U.S. 90 near Sneads and Cottondale. His home in Red Bank, New Jersey, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a landmark to this day.