One More Serve

After years of decline, the iconic Florida sport of jai alai gets another chance. By Francisco Alvarado A corridor away from the dizzy array of whirring slot machines and computerized card games, the revitalization of a forgotten game is in full swing. Roughly 50 spectators file into the jai alai fronton at Magic City Casino in Miami. The walls are adorned with black-and-white photos of a bygone era when the

Gridiron Glory

A cultural history of Florida’s fervor for football. By Gary R. Mormino A splendorous October afternoon blessed “a delightful high rolling country,” the Red Hills of La Florida between the Aucilla and Ochlocknee rivers. For days, opposing sides hyped the game to a religious pitch. Players drank hyper-caffeinated beverages to maintain a buzz. Spectators lined the bloodied field, screaming for divine intervention. Upon the game’s conclusion, contestants and spectators sang

Send in the Clowns

The not-so-funny story of baseball’s Miami Ethiopian Clowns. By Eric Barton The most successful pro sports team to have ever begun in Florida may have just one surviving video clip. Shot in 1947 in Cincinnati by an unknown person, it’s an eight-minute silent film—and it is not easy to watch. The star of the clip is Reece “Goose” Tatum, then a baseball player but later famous as the star of

Going the Distance

At 64, Diana Nyad made swimming history. Now a critically acclaimed film tells her story. By Susan Burns In October, on the 10th anniversary of her historic 110-mile nonstop swim from Cuba to Key West, Diana Nyad was once again on Smathers Beach in Key West, this time releasing a rehabilitated sea turtle named Rocky. At 74, she looks youthful, strong and energetic, far better than she did 10 years

A Salty Story

Moonlight raids, fugitive slaves and hidden campsites—they’re all part of how Florida saltmakers tried to help the Confederate cause. By Robert Taylor Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States in November 1860, and by February, seven slave-holding Southern states had withdrawn from the Union. On Jan. 10, 1861, Florida became the third to secede. But few expected the state to count for much in the coming conflict. Only

Audubon, Revisited

A brilliant naturalist and illustrator, John James Audubon was also an unrepentant slaveholder. Can we separate the artist from the man? By Gregory Nobles At first light on a Florida morning in late December 1831 John James Audubon set out from Live Oak Landing on the Halifax River, canoeing upriver in search of brown pelicans—and not just one or two, but two dozen or more. The famous artist wanted to

FORUM Takes Home the Gold at 2023 Charlie Awards

FORUM, the magazine of Florida Humanities, won 24 awards at the 2023 Florida Magazine Association Charlie Awards Gala on July 21 in Sarasota. The magazine received 10 first-place “Charlies,” eight silver and six bronze — including a Charlie for Best Overall: Writing and Best Writing: In-Depth Reporting. The awards recognized outstanding writing, design and photography achievements by Florida magazines in 2022. Congratulations to the entire FORUM team and all the

Freedom Spring

As a young civil rights activist in Florida in 1964, Bill Maxwell experienced danger, despair—and hope. By Bill Maxwell I was an 18-year-old, a second-semester college freshman in 1964, arguably the most pivotal year of the civil rights movement. Race issues dominated the news, and leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Committee had become household names.

Saving Sanibel

A visionary plan has long safeguarded the island’s character and beauty. But can it inspire solutions for a changing climate? By Thomas T. Ankersen In October 2022, Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida, including Sanibel Island, a popular vacation destination known for its low-key charm and natural beauty. On Sanibel, a 12-foot storm surge and 130 mph winds destroyed buildings, crumpled the only bridge to the island and tossed around homes,
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