Tag Archives: Black Masonic Temple

Stringbeans May and the Birth of the Blues in Black Vaudeville

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Just before his neck was broken in Jacksonville, Butler “Stringbeans” May was the hottest Black entertainer in the country. He’d just turned 23. Critics called him “eccentric” and “smutty.” It was Stringbeans who made the Blues first rise in Black Vaudeville, but he never recorded and never copyrighted his hits. Details of his death remain a mystery.

Black Masonic Temple

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What these walls have seen! Architects Mark and Sheftall began their own firm in 1912 and with a commission for the grandest building in black Jacksonville. The Black Masonic Temple formed the brick foundation of the black community.

Princess Laura Adorkor Kofi preached her “back to Africa” message here in the 1920s. Future Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander Shaw had his offices here in the 1960s. And the tunnels beneath Broad Street would offer protection if Florida’s massacres of black communities at Ocoee, Perry, and Rosewood should spread to Jacksonville.