Created By: Hannibal Square Heritage Center
Community Pride in Hannibal Square is a mosaic mural which was created by over 500 students, artists, and volunteers from Killarney Elementary School, Dommerich Elementary School, Crealdé School of Art, and Winter Park Community Center. The mosaic depicts the 1887 election when citizens of Hannibal Square joined together to cross the railroad tracks in order to vote for incorporation and the election of two black aldermen to the city council. The three largest figures depicted are Frank Israel and Walter Simpson, the elected aldermen, and Gus Henderson, publisher of the local black newspaper, The Advocate. The mosaic was produced in partnership with The Golden Rule Foundation, and with major funding from The Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation, The City of Winter Park, and the Walt Disney World Helping Kids Shine program.
Gus Henderson, a Florida native, was born in November 1862 near Lake City. His mother died when he was only 10 years old, so he took up odd jobs in his neighborhood. Later in his twenties, after a short stint as a salesman for a New York company, Henderson moved to Winter Park in 1886. Becoming involved in the town’s civic affairs, he started a printing and press shop, and founded a weekly newspaper, The Advocate. As the push for incorporation of Winter Park as a town was gaining traction, some in Winter Park opposed the inclusion of Hannibal Square. They found it unfair that the primarily black home renters would be levying taxes on land owners. Henderson argued that it made no difference, and that all residents had a right to be involved in the issue. There were also fears that the Republican black population of the town would hold a voting majority over Democratic white voters, as most of the area's white residents were Northerners who only lived in Winter Park seasonally.
At the first vote on September 10th, 1887, a quorum was not met since most black voters had stayed home, due to the interference of a Winter park businessman, J.C. Stovin, who convinced many residents of Hannibal Square that the incorporation was a ruse to make them pay higher taxes. In response, Henderson and his colleagues went door to door and pleaded with their neighbors to come out and vote. This culminated in Henderson leading a group of black voters in a procession from Hannibal Square to the voting hall on October 12th, where quorum was achieved. Thus, Winter Park was incorporated as a town, with Hannibal Square included. Two black men, Walter Simpson and Frank Israel, were elected as aldermen, the first and last black elected officials in Winter Park.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hannibal Square Heritage Center Tour