How did Florida’s Highwaymen artists succeed despite segregation?

As Florida’s population boomed in the 1950s, 26 African Americans—all self-taught landscape painters—succeeded despite Jim Crow racial and cultural barriers. They painted and sold idyllic depictions of natural Florida door-to-door and from the trunks of their cars along the East Coast. Today, known as The Highwaymen, they are honored for their legacy of resilience and ingenuity—and have been called “The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th Century.”

Watch this video interview of Mary Ann Carroll, the only female member of The Highwaymen, the daughter of sharecroppers, with video producer Patricia Borns. “Only the strong survive,” she says. “A quitter never wins.”

Video Courtesy of Patricia Borns

Read this colorfully illustrated article about the new Florida Highwaymen Trail opening in Fort Pierce—home to most of the painters.
Painting by James-Gibson

Listen below to hear how The Highwaymen got started and thrived by working together.


1 Response

  1. Lois C. Jones

    Thanks for videotaping the photo and voice of each artist…you could find in 21st Century! In mid-1950s, I often saw these artists beside their cars on U.S. 1 in south Florida–where I lived. Each artist’s quest to capture the beauty of Florida was a treasure then and of historic value today.

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