A State Historical Marker, New Exhibit, and Beautification Project!
A State Historical Marker, New Exhibit, and Beautification Project!


Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Downtown Apalachicola

New Historical Marker Proposed

in Recognition of Moses Roper

Image Courtesy of the
Smithsonian Portrait Gallery
We're pleased to announce our newest project: a state historical marker recognizing abolitionist Moses Roper. Roper was enslaved on an Apalachicola steamboat but escaped slavery in a 500-mile journey of survival across north Florida and south Georgia in the summer of 1834.
After arriving in Savannah, Georgia, he sailed to New York and later to England where he became an author, lecturer, and prominent figure in the transatlantic abolitionist movement.

We are proposing that the marker be located at Riverfront Park and will be asking the city commission to vote on the matter at the November 2nd meeting. (If the proposal for the park is not approved, we will then look at alternative sites along downtown's riverfont).

Show Your Support!

If you would like to see this project become reality at Riverfront Park, let your voice be heard. Click here to sign the online petition. 
The link also contains the proposed marker text, information on collaborators, and more.
Apalachicola has several historical markers, but the marker recognizing Moses Roper will be the first in Franklin County about an African-American. 

Next Steps

Once the location is set, the next step is to submit the application to the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Marker applications are reviewed by the State Historical Marker Council, an appointed committee of three preservation experts from around the state. Once the application is approved by the Marker Council, production takes 6-8 weeks.
The Florida Historical Marker Program is one of the Division of Historical Resources' most popular and visible public history programs. Click here for a searchable database of all Florida Historical Markers.
Florida Historical Marker recognizing Dr. John Gorrie, located at Apalachicola's Gorrie Square.
Photo by Tim Fillmon
This project is made possible by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.
We gratefully acknowledge their support.

A New Exhibit Chronicles Roper's Journey to Freedom

The state historical marker project builds on the exhibit developed by Apalachicola Main Street and collaborators entitled Journey to Freedom: The Odyssey of Abolitionist Moses Roper. 
Photo by Ali Valenzuela
Currently on display at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture, and Art, the exhibit provides the community and our visitors from around the world the opportunity to learn about a facet of our diverse history that has been largely forgotten.
The exhibit includes interpretive panels, digital interactive maps, and an 1840 edition of Roper’s autobiography. Story maps combining Roper's own words, images, geography, and historical context are one of the interactive features on the digital kiosk that we developed specifically for this exhibit. You can view the interactive story map of Roper's escape here.

Exhibit Collaborators

The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between Apalachicola Main Street, the Hillside Coalition Of Laborers for Apalachicola, historian Dr. Hannay-Rose Murray, Roper descendant Meredith Devereaux, and Dr. Lady Dhyana Ziegler.
Funding was provided by grants from Florida Humanities, Duke Energy Foundation, George E. Weems Memorial Hospital, and donations from several individuals.  Bay Media created the graphic design for the panels, which were produced by Sign Design.

 Opening Reception

An opening reception was held on September 30, 2021. The public was invited to view the exhibit and engage in conversation over hors d’oeuvres. 
Attendees listen to a brief talk about Roper and his connections to Apalachicola by Augusta West, far right.
Guests at the exhibit's opening reception reading one of the four 7-foot long interpretive panels.
Acquired from a rare book dealer in England, a copy of the 1840 edition of Roper's Narrative is part of the exhibit.
A guest explores content on the touch screen kiosk.
Guests learn about Roper's impact near a copy of his Narrative on display.
Reproduced historical documents provide a glimpse into Roper's remarkable history.
Guests at the opening reception gathered for conversation. Collaborator Elinor Mount-Simmons, President of the Hillside Coalition Of Laborers for Apalachicola, is at the far left.
The exhibit inspired James Hargrove (left) to write a poem about Roper's journey,
published below.

Community Response

Surveys were collected to gauge the public's response to the exhibit. Here's a sampling of comments received:
"I'm so thankful that Apalachicola Main Street brought this special project to Apalach. The education received is incredible and I yearn to know more. Thank you!!"
"This was both beautiful and devastating. What an amazing exhibit. Thank you."
"Please get this to our local schools or get the students here." 

Inspiring Poetry

Franklin County resident James Hargrove attended the exhibit opening and had trouble sleeping that night. He jotted down some notes and the next day turned them into a poem inspired by Roper's journey. The poem is reproduced here with his permission:
Crossing Dark Waters

Oh, Moses,
Your mother did not hide you
Among bulrushes in the Nile’s waters.
When Pharaoh came hunting,
You slipped away in the night
And crossed many rivers, one by one,
So bloodhounds
Could not catch your scent.
When thorns cut you
And stones bruised your feet,
You left dark blood that shone
in the moonlight. You outran
The dogs, the rifles and the chains,
The torture of cotton presses,
And now you stand on that far shore
Beckoning to all men who would be free,
All people who have bled like you,
To swim across those dark waters,
Not without fear, smelling
Their own blood, but knowing,
As you know,
How precious it is
To free a country
From its own chains.
—James Hargrove
He didn't know it at first, but Mr. Hargrove is not the only poet to be inspired by Roper. Published at the end of the 1848 edition of the Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery are no less then five poems written by people moved by Roper's writing and speeches.  
The exhibit was made possible with financial support from:
And generous private donors.
***Please note: Located at 86 Water Street, the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture, and Art is normally open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The center is temporarily closed due to staffing issues.***

Market Street Beautification

Several of the sabal palms on Market Street were overdue for maintenance, so earlier this month Main Street paid for them to be trimmed and the fronds hauled away.
Main Street volunteers then followed up with brooms and blowers to leave the sidewalk pristine. Thank you to our donors and volunteers who made this project possible!
Apalachicola Main Street volunteers Jim Bachrach, Bob and Susan Oakes, and Jan Thomas.

Our Mission

Apalachicola Main Street, Inc. was established in 2011 as part of the Florida Main Street and National Main Street networks. Apalachicola Main Street’s mission is to enhance the downtown district of Apalachicola with sound economic development that promotes a sustainable future while preserving the district’s historical significance and commitment to quality of life in our community.
We are committed to preserving and promoting the district's rich contributions to Florida’s diverse historical and cultural heritage
Apalachicola Main Street has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program.
The downtown district is defined as the City Marina at Battery Park to the Scipio Creek boat basin, and from Water Street to 6th Street.

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A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from The Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free within the state. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the State. 
1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or www.FloridaConsumerHelp.com. License # CH44897.

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