Sunday, December 28, 2014

100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida: The List

This page lists each part in my series "100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida." As each new post is added, it will be included here so you can access the entire series in one place. Just click each link to read that post:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Alarming facts about media coverage of Dozier School controversy

I am pleased to announce the release at of my new book, Death at Dozier School: The Attempted Assassination of an American City.

It can be purchased now at Amazon by clicking here:  Death at Dozier School. The book is also available in Marianna, FL at The Vintage Depot on South Caledonia Street, although they are now sold out until after Christmas.

This is a book about the Dozier School Cemetery, its destruction by the University of South Florida and the inaccurate media coverage that has surrounded the issue. Profits from the book are being donated to worthwhile causes, including the group funding effort for a friend who is battling cancer. 

Read more about why the book was written in this excerpt from the introduction:

THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT A CEMETERY.  I clarify this now because the former Dozier School for Boys in Florida is surrounded by a whirlwind of allegations, claims, opinions, and in some cases, outright falsehoods. Many of these have been exacerbated by media coverage generated and often coordinated by employees of the University of South Florida (USF), an institution of higher learning in Tampa. The university has used more than half a million dollars in taxpayer funding to search for and exhume graves on the campus of the former institution for juvenile offenders. To quote one of the graduate students involved in the project, it was done in the name of “social justice.”

Unfortunately, the Dozier School Cemetery is no better understood by the public at large today than it was before two years of research by USF and an accompanying frenzy of media coverage. The university has grown increasingly secretive about is work on the campus and on at least one occasion even went so far as to deny that it had released new information even as it provided a major report of findings to the State of Florida. Researchers once conducted media tours on the Dozier School campus and even allowed CNN unprecedented live access as the first graves were exhumed. Today they carefully hold their press conferences hundreds of miles away from the site and release only a trickle of information to a media that remains fixated on the fading narrative that the cemetery was a place where bodies were dumped following hundreds of “murders” and “abuse-related deaths” on the campus.

Why the dramatic change? This book will provide you with an opportunity to answer that question for yourself.

So then, this is a book about a cemetery. It is a history of the Dozier School or “Boot Hill” cemetery in Marianna, Florida. The goal is to make public the facts about the cemetery from its first interments more than 100 years ago to the present controversy that led to its destruction. This is not a book about the allegations of abuse that have been made against the school and its employees by groups of former students except where those allegations involve the cemetery or other rumored gravesites on campus. Much has been written about the “White House” – a structure on campus where corporal punishment was administered to students that has become a focal point of abuse allegations – but the building was not used for punishment purposes during most of the cemetery’s active history. Only one burial is known to have taken place in the Dozier School Cemetery after the former ice cream factory now called the “White House” was converted for use as a storage and punishment facility. For reasons that will be explained in the book, the individual buried in that grave was not connected to the “White House” allegations.

On the pages that follow you will find a documented history of the cemetery and its use to bury unfortunate students and employees of the school for roughly fifty years. The story it presents is tragic. In some cases it is heart-breaking. Yet there are also moments of inspiration and heroism associated with some of the graves. Those stories are related as well, in hopes that the reader will gain a better appreciation for the noble actions of some residents of the school, students and employees alike. 

To continue reading:  Death at Dozier School