Ok, it’s kind of hard to phrase this question in one line. What I mean is:
Florida is the southernmost state. Why doesn’t it seem to have the same kind of southern accent and attitudes that the other southern states have? When you hear about the Civil War or Civil Rights problems in the South, Florida is scarcely to be heard from.
I’m not a Southerner, but let me take a crack at it.
Florida was not a part of the original 13 colonies. It was a Spanish holding. I can’t remember how the US obtained it, but I remember Andrew Jackson pissing off a lot of nationalities (I think Native American, English, and Spanish) there.
Let me start over. When you think of “Florida” you are probably thinking of Orlando, Disneyland/Universal/Sea World area, beaches, and Big East football (hopefully it’ll stay that way, but that’s another topic). That’s only the Southern part of the state. Try the swamps (read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Not about racism persay, but good) and the panhandle. The other areas have been “colonized” by retirees, people in mouse ears, and scantily clad co-eds .
Depends on where you are in Florida, I’m told. Some parts are enclaves for Northerners, major cities especially I bet. Particularly in the winter. Other parts are really the South.
Semi-related factoid: this doesn’t just happen in Florida. Raleigh, NC is populated mostly by ex-Northerners, I think it’s something like 75%. Which explains why the hockey team is so popular.
Of course the real crux of this problem is that “the South” is a misnomer for the cultural and political attitudes that you’re thinking of. Perhaps a more accurate name would be “Dixie”, but that just sounds silly. It’s the same way that “Southwestern flavor” doesn’t refer to every community in Southwestern USA.
Florida is an incredibly schizoid state. The dividing line between North / South is approximately Interstate 4. North of 4 is the South and south of 4 is something else entirely. I4 runs from Tampa (my metro area) to Orlando to Daytona Beach, and everything gets decidedly more, um…, country as you head north of it.
My guess as to why it is this way is that when Florida was transferred to US control, the Georgians only spread so far before they were repelled by the Floridians already in place. I suppose it was just too damned hot to continue southward. North Florida is very similar to the rest of the South in attitude and history. Central and South Florida have an interesting mix of cultures and histories.
Miami is North Cuba, as UncleBill can attest.
Tampa Bay (my home) is very diverse, with sizable populations of SE Asian and Caribbean immigrants.
Orlando is just weird.
Central and South Florida are net importers of citizens. With the constant influx of new arrivees from all over the country and the world, any remnants of the Old South have pretty much fallen away.
[sub]forgive my rambling style. studying all day and can no longer focus appropriately.[/sub]
I asked my brother (who lives outside of Tallahassee) a similar question to the original OP. He said that northern Florida is a southern state while southern Florida is not. In fact, they call the area where he lives, “Soganofla” – Southern Georgia Northern Florida.
MikeTurk had it right. I was born/raised in Orlando and attended college in Gainesville. Here’s a breakdown of Florida in my view:
both east & west coastlines - very northern due to influx of retirees
central florida - northern-ish, with some southerners scattered in the outskirts (Oveido, Ocoee, Lake County, Kississimmee)
Okachobee / Bellglade - very southern
north of Gainesville - very southern, all the way into the panhandle with a pocket of non-south in Jacksonville
Basically the true south stops just north of Gainesville, and picks up again for a little bit around Okachobee.
Been to Winter Garden? My gawd, you could just as well be in southern Georgia. Lots of Confederate Flags, shrines to 'ol #3 on vehicles and buildings, used car dealers and auto parts stores, and so on.
I lived next door, in Ocoee, for a couple of years. It’s a middle to upper middle class Orlando suburb, but it’s located in “West Orange,” a part of the metro area that is something of a Confederate cultural enclave. Most of my neighbors in Ocoee had Southern accents, but head to one of the northern eastern or southern 'burbs, and you’ll hear few drawls, see almost no Dale Earnhardt beatification, and encounter no constandly bleeping Nextel phones.
Proof that Ocoee is “Southern?” All the town’s black residents were either lynched or chased out in 1920, and only in the past couple of years did African Americans start moving back. Even then, few new black Ocoee residents are Orlando-area natives.
Well, I did say Orlando is weird. I4 as the divider is kinda fuzzy, as Bob55 pointed out. The Southerness falls off as you approach the centers of the metro areas, but the rate at which it does so depends on where it is. I would argue that Jacksonville is the most Southern of the FL metro areas and that Miami is the least. My county – Pinellas – is itself very Northernesque (and the most densely populated), but that to the immediate north (Pasco) is very Sons of the South.
Prior to the advent of electricity, and thus air conditioning, Florida was not a very hospitable place. Therefore, there were not many people here as in the deep south. After all, you can’t grow cotton in swampland… Florida has had a huge growth rate only made possible because of the technology of the past century or so. Once the swampy land was rid of heat and mosquitos, the population swelled. Among the new people here are many, many northerners. If there was any “Dixieness” to Florida, it has been really watered down.
If you go in the boonies there still seems to be a good amount of Dixie pride and the confederate flags that go with it. Bob55’s description is right on the money. In Orlando, the people of the city are mostly imported but if you venture into the woods around it, the people get very southern. In the town where I’m from, a smallish coastal city of 40,000, the population doubles during the winter because of snowbirds.
MikeTurk, why do you say Orlando is weird? I see it as somewhat weird because of the whole seperate entertainment suburb that Disney created.
See, if I had been coherent earlier, this is what I’d’a said, instead of, “I suppose it was just too damned hot to continue southward.”
Intrastate rivalries. Actually, every single person I knew in high school and otherwise who moved to Orlando has come back within a year or so. Not a single one has remained. I assume something must be up. My personal dislike of Orlando is that it suffers badly from suburban sprawl and that it feels much hotter than metro St Petersburg. We get this decent seabreeze from both sides that makes the air less oppressive, but y’all get this superheated blast from the Everglades that makes the air feel like a living thing that is trying to kill you, if you get any breeze at all. Every time I’m there, I am reminded why the coasts are more populous. But this is way offtopic, so I’ll shut up now.
I lived in a town without a name very near Orlando for 2 months. While Orlando itself isn’t quite “the South” (although it is very weird, mostly because of Disney I think) the outlying areas are most indeed South in nature.
I lived off of a street on which every house was surrounded by barbed wire & huge “No Trespassing” signs. We had a female black hang glider pilot land in someone’s yard, and it turned out to be a KKK party. They were NOT happy to see her. For the most part, the area had a “third world” look to it, and I think the collective IQ of the inhabitants was around 2. Country music & Jesus across the whole radio dial, confederate flags everywhere, many Harley Davidsons (a white trash icon to be sure)…I was happy to be back in New England.