Inside the Claude Pepper Library, almost hidden on the campus of Florida State University, is an exhibit that sets out to help those who came after the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott understand what led up to this movement.
The exhibit is titled “What They Fought: Resistance to Integration and the Path to the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott.” It is comprised of detailed letters, newspaper clippings, and placards of those who played a vital role during the movement.
Claude Pepper library associate Tammy Joyner is among those who helped curate the exhibit in May in honor of the 62nd anniversary of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott. Joyner said that Florida A&M and local residents were the inspiration for the exhibit, because FAMU students were at the forefront of the boycott.
FAMU and Tallahassee are pieces to the history puzzle that has lasting benefits for those who can now take advantage of all the public transportation Tallahassee has to offer.
Joyner hopes the exhibit gives the same awe-inspiring effect to visitors that it gave her. “A lot of people (were not) aware that this movement took place. Just being able to be involved in this process was an eye-opener,” she said. “It’s nice to know we had great leaders which paved the way for us.”
Joyner also went on to explain how the Pepper library pulled artifacts from former Florida Supreme Court Justice William Glenn Terrell —a staunch segregationist, and former Florida Gov. Leroy Collins, who made the push to desegregate busses. The idea is to further illustrate both sides of the argument. The exhibit strives to explain why some members of the Tallahassee community were for segregation and why others were against it.
It’s unfortunate that small historical exhibits like this, let alone the Claude Pepper Library, often go unnoticed by students and residents unless it is heavily marketed.
Regarding the exhibit, FSU student Quaja Huntley said: “This is my first time hearing about it and it definitely piqued my interest. Unless it is actively advertised (around campus), pertaining to your major or student organizations you’re in, you wouldn’t know about them.”
Joyner makes it her mission to build awareness for this exhibit and encourages all to stop by and recognize those who helped Tallahassee progress.
The exhibit will extend through Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. The exhibit can be viewed in the library room of the Claude Pepper Library and is free of charge and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.