The Florida Highwaymen Art Movement: The Florida Highwaymen are a group of well-known African-American landscape artists of the 1950s and 60s. The contributions of the young men and one woman led to one of the most significant art movements in Florida and America's history. Some of the most famous leaders and legends are Alfred Hair, Harold Newton, Roy McLendon, Livingston Roberts, James Gibson, Sam Newton, Mary Ann Carroll, Willie, Johnny Daniels, Al Black, and the sales crew historians scholars of their time. The young men pioneered the early art movement amid systemic racism. Unfortunately, the Jim Crow era of segregation journeyed difficult times for the legends in the deep south.
It was out of necessity when twenty-six innovators evolved; all were searching for a better life than picking oranges that could not keep food on kitchen tables. Their origination was mainly in Fort Pierce, Florida, in the historic Lincoln Park neighborhood. However, some resided out of Vero Beach and Florida's Treasure Coast areas. With no formal training, the self-taught group created makeshift materials and taught one another to paint Florida's serene landscapes.
During the racial tones of the Jim Crow South, museums and galleries would not showcase the work of these black artists. Instead, Florida's highways of A1A and byways of US 1 were the old stomping grounds, where twenty-six painters of equal importance to the movement made ends meet. As tourists visited the sunshine state and the locals lived, vacationers encountered the future legends of the road along the side. The trunks of their cars revealed a majestic timeless Florida. Oil paintings sold for $25 or 35 dollars are now among the most well-received nostalgic national treasures.
It was out of necessity when the men traded goods for services, a motel room to lay their heads, or gas to make it home at night. Doctors, lawyers, banks, politicians, and folks near and far purchased and collected their work. During their heyday, the 1950s-1980s, the group captured the state of Florida and, it is said, documented over 200,000 vivid, colorful landscapes and is still painting today.
The Florida Highwaymen earned their title in 1994 under one name for how the young entrepreneurs sold their paintings, door to door, along the highways and byways of Olde, Florida. The Highwaymen movement was initiated predominantly by friends, three sets of family, and a few acquaintances.
In 1973 the 2nd Generation was established by the original Highwaymen. The Original Highwaymen earned legendary fame over decades. The original scholars were instrumental in forming the "Second Generation Movement." The iconic Florida landscape painters mentored close friends and family and handed down their name, history, and heritage to a selective, handpicked 2nd Generation. The Original Highwaymen has sustained for well over sixty years. The impact of the prominent 2nd Generation has played a significant extension in the sustainability of the original art movement.
Like the Originals, blood, and non-blood, the "Historic 2nd Generation Movement" began and helped create 200,000 landscapes. Over time, painting Florida and performing art shows together became and continues to be a tradition for both groups. The Generation after, typically twenty years younger, grew up during the segregated times, keeps history alive as they continue to paint the 1950s and 60s state of Florida Civil Rights Era.
Highwaymen Handpicked the 1990s: The 40-year veteran Highwaymen Johnny Lee Daniels had no heirs that painted. For over a decade, during the 1990s, the art educator became well-known for teaching his craft to four men and one woman, AJ Brown. Finally, the legendary Johnny Daniels bestowed his heritage and established five prominent members as Highwaymen artists. Daniels advanced 2nd Generation Johnny Stovall, Kelvin Hair, and AJ Brown as his business partners in his Highwaymen Art Galleries in Fort Pierce, Florida. Jimmy Stovall learned by watching Daniels paint and pursued his art career as an Original Highwayman. Richard Edwards was the last member to receive the teachings of Johnny Daniels.
Johnny Daniels followed in the steps of his colleagues, the Original Highwaymen, respective 1950s tradition. A.E. Backus taught Alfred Hair. Alfred Hair and Harold Newton led friends and family. Not all twenty-six Original Highwaymen were blood-related, but together, under one name and one accomplishment, all are historically written in history as the Florida Highwaymen.
Early Original Florida Hall of Fame Highwaymen James Gibson, a 50-year veteran, has a legacy. In 2005, Gibson was the first to teach AJ Brown the history of the Highwaymen and the painting techniques of the famous signature Red Royal Poinciana trees. Then, after two years and a demanding schedule, Gibson suggested she continue to paint with Johnny Daniels, and so she did.
The icons revealed stories of Highwaymen's history, shared memories and myths, and tales of their past!
Over the years, legends witnessed as AJ Brown was endorsed as a member and is historically the only female friend among the "Historic 2nd Generation" group.
What was once a familiar dynamic among the Original group, "friends" are an old 1950s tradition, and a female friend is a rare find among both generations."
Today, Brown refers to herself as the "Florida Highwaymen Historic Generation, and earns her living through sales of her work." Supported by four iconic early Originals, Brown's journey is one of uniqueness; she is a story untold. HONORED TO BE PART OF AMERICA'S HISTORY!
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY AND WOMEN'S HISTORY IN AMERICA
For over six decades, a half-century, twenty-six African-American entrepreneurs became known as the Florida Highwaymen, a non-traditional informal group. In May 2009, it was historical when the first initial 501(c)3 organization was formed and filed on June 24, 2009, under the name Florida Highwaymen Artist and History Center Inc., a name given by senior Original James Gibson. The goal was to open the first Highwaymen museum.
Original Highwaymen Mary Ann Carroll and First Lady held Presidency for the allotted two years. A position of power and influence designated for the "Originals" only. Curtis Arnett was elected as Vice President, and Carnell Smith served as Treasurer. R.L. Lewis was elected Secretary; however, Mr. Lewis delegated this significant position to female Highwaymen 2nd Generation AJ Brown. Brown was officially appointed the first Secretary and served as one of five members of the By-Laws Committee. For the first time in history, the Originals and the Historic 2nd Generation unified!
In November 2009, the Originals agreed to continue to preserve Florida’s Highwaymen art history and officially documented the 2nd Generation. As the first appointed secretary, AJ Brown recorded each member. It was unfortunate that the goal of the Highwaymen museum did not come to fruition. Over a lifetime, the work of these black artists received recognition; both generations understood the necessity for Highwaymen's history to continue. These historic facts marked a hallmark era in time.
Johnny Lee Daniels bridged the 2nd Generation to the Originals: History holds a time when the 40-year veteran established five Highwaymen and was highly respected for his achievements. Jimmy and Johnny Stovall, Kelvin Hair, female AJ Brown, and Richard Edwards, are prominent Florida Highwaymen artists. Over the years, Johnny Daniels mentored and partnered in business with Johnny, Kelvin, and AJ in two of his Highwaymen art galleries.
The endorsements and achievements of art educator Johnny Daniels are cemented in time; the status of his Original platform, and seniority, were rightfully sealed in his death. The Original Highwaymen honored the irrevocable history and legacy of their colleagues.
Twenty-six Originals were united in one name, even when the majority were not all blood-related. Like the Originals, the bridge that Johnny Daniels scholars are connected in one group, "the 2nd Generation," as his life transcends time. Johnny Lee Daniels is an American icon. A legend of his time, Daniels died on May 26, 2009.
Willie Daniels, Hall of Fame Original Highwaymen, continued to paint with AJ Brown. Daniels supported his brother's bridge and her journey as a 2nd Generation Highwayman. The Daniels brother's mother died young leaving six siblings. The eldest sister Ms. Curley Daniels extended her role as their mother and her love for her family. On January 26, 2010, respectful of her youngest brother's legacy, and her affection for Brown, Ms. Curley Daniels, confirmed AJ Brown as her Goddaughter. Ms. Daniels understood the family-like bond and business partnership. The common connection between Brown and Daniels was painting; Brown practiced as she watched Daniels paint.
Criteria of a Highwaymen: Historically, a 1950s African American tradition is taught, mentored, and endorsed by one of the Florida Highwaymen artists.
Early Scholars of the 1950s and '60s: For over a decade, the Original Highwaymen historians James Gibson, Johnny Daniels, Al Black, and Willie Daniels authenticated and officially endorsed one female Highwaymen member, AJ Brown. Four early Hall of Famers accredited, mentored, and handed down the name 2nd Generation to AJ Brown.
The Highwaymen First Secretary: AJ Brown was appointed the first female secretary in 2009 by the Original Highwaymen and served as a by-laws committee member for President Mary Ann Carroll.
The Highwaymen Heritage Trail: AJ Brown wrote the Highwaymen story in 2009, which appears on one side of the Highwaymen Heritage Trail Obelisk monument, located in the Lincoln Park historic neighborhood on Ave D, in Fort Pierce, Florida.
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY AND WOMEN'S HISTORY IN AMERICA
Johnny "Hook" Daniels is recognized on the Highwaymen Heritage Trail: Florida Highwaymen 2nd Generation female AJ Brown was authorized in May 2009 by Daniels beneficiary Ms. Curley Daniels and commissioned by Cultural Affairs Manager Jody Bonet to construct the Johnny Daniels grave-site monument at Pine-Grove Cemetery in the City of Fort Pierce, Florida. As the appointed spokesman for Johnny Daniels, Brown contributes a significant educational history of the American legend.
Highwaymen Heritage Trail: In 2012, Fort Pierce City Hall and Florida Humanities Council invested thousands in grant funds to preserve the rich history of the Florida Highwaymen artists. The Highwaymen Heritage Trail and website recorded written and oral stories of the African Americans and their lives. Documented by Elizabeth "Libby" Woodruff" are past and present histories of the Original and Historic 2nd Generation Highwaymen.
In 2019, the website was closed under the new administration of Caletta Scott, family to Doretha Hair. Selective sections were partially reopened, and the summer of 2021 was closed again.
Both generations' contributions, accomplishments, and voices are equally historical significance. Legends and trail brazers represent a lifetime of triumph amid an era of systematic racism, marginalization, and denial during America's 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
The website once offered a collective awareness of decades of injustice throughout Highwaymen's generational black cultural experiences. The history of the legends is educational, inspirational and preserves the nostalgia of the state of Florida.
America's most significant artists are all worthy of dignity, deserving respect for their services, and contributions to the iconic art movement.
Johnny Daniels 2nd Generation Bridge: Hall of Fame, Original Highwaymen Johnny Lee Daniels, began his Highwaymen career in the 1960s as a young boy making frames for his older colleagues, the Originals. The legend contributed his life and his work to the journey of Highwaymen history for 40 years. Johnny Daniels is credited for the bridge between the 2nd Generation and his Original Highwaymen group, under one name, the 2nd generation. An honor that Daniels became well-known for and respected among the Originals.
The Original Highwaymen were not all blood-related: This very concept is the core of what makes the Johnny Daniels non-blood, 2nd Generation members, most like "The Originals." Both generations include friends and family. A tradition began during the 1950s with the "Original Highwaymen." Florida Highwaymen's history is handed down from the Original Generation to the 2nd Generation.
Highwaymen Heritage Trail: Florida Highwaymen history includes noteworthy artists. Highlighted on the "Highwaymen Heritage Trail" are five members of the "Johnny Daniels Historic 2nd Generation Bridge to the Originals." Jimmy and Johnny Stovall, Kelvin Hair, female AJ Brown, and Richard Edwards.
Authentic Florida: AJ Brown's family roots began in Tallahassee, Florida. Born in Virginia and raised in the deep south of Overtown Miami, Brown resides in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Brown is from a long line of soldiers, warriors for their country; her family has historically devoted a lifetime of service and sacrifices to the brotherhood of the United States of America Military Services.
TO THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES, A HERO IS REMEMBERED!
Highwaymen History Lives On! The United States of America; Highest Office of the Land; December 25, 2014, amid an official "Military Meet and Greet," AJ Brown met with the 44th President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama. AJ Brown handed down two of her paintings and later a collection of Original and the Historic 2nd Generation Highwaymen art to the "First Family White House private collection."
What's New? The History You Don't Know:
An open invitation to this site is welcomed to discover unknown history. This site serves to honor, respect, and unify; enlighten and open minds and hearts to the African- American group's past, present, and future. Traditionally, there are two groups, the Originals, and the 2nd Generation. Thank you, America, for investing and treating Highwaymen's history of all generations worthy.
Highwaywomen of Fort Pierce, Florida: Mary Ann Carroll held seniority in its highest regard. She is respectfully the first and only Original Highwaywoman. (deceased). Diane Roberts (hiatus-ed), AJ Brown (active), and Doretha Hair (active).
For more than a decade AJ Brown was the only female Highwayman artist without an online presence.
Brown shares her history and story, voice and character, truth, and contributions as a Florida Highwaymen Art History member.
A Special Tribute: an iconic legend has passed; Florida Highwaymen Artist First Lady Mary Ann Carroll, the only Original Highwaywoman died at 79; read more on her page.
Willie Daniels, an iconic painter, mentor, and legend, has died at 71; read more on his page.
Isaac knight, an iconic legend, died on February 17, 2022, at 80.
Charles Walker, an iconic legend, died on May 24, 2022, at 77.
•Florida Highwaymen Artist AJ Brown
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