Florence Tate papers, 1960-2006

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Materials in the UNITA subseries of the African Politics Series are open for reading room research but have a view-only status. This means that researchers are not allowed to photograph or request...
More about accessing and using these materials...


Tate, Florence Lee
Florence Tate (1931-2014) was a civil rights and pan-African activist based in Washington, DC. Involved in activism in support of Angolan independence, she later worked in support of the UNITA faction in the Angolan Civil War. In the United States, she worked as a press secretary for the first mayoral administration of Marion Barry and subsequently for the 1984 presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson.
4 Linear Feet
Materials in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The largest series, African Politics, contains material from Tate's activism in support of the Southwestern African nation of Angola. As an organizer of several groups which sought to connect Angolans with African Americans, this series features correspondence, official communiques with the UNITA leadership, government documents, and clippings from African newspapers and journals.

The U.S. Politics series highlights Tate's role as a press secretary for both Mayor Marion Barry and Senator Jesse Jackson, during the latter's 1984 presidential campaign. Of particular importance is her role in organizing and documenting Jackson's 1984 mission to Syria to free downed Navy pilot Robert O. Goodman, shot down by Syrian forces over Lebanon during the height of the Lebanese Civil War.

The Name and Subject series is based on material related to organizations that Tate created and lead. She collected materials related to Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), among others. There is also information collected related to Southern African nations of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Personal Materials series features correspondence, photographs, and articles written by Florence Tate. It highlights her career as a journalist in Dayton, Ohio during the mid-1960s, when she was active with local CORE and SNCC organizations.

Biographical / historical:

Born in Eads, Tennessee in 1931, Florence L. Tate (née Grinner) grew up in Memphis where she attended public school. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from LeMoyne College, she married Charles Tate, and took a job as a reporter for the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio. While reporting on politics, courts, and schools for the newspaper, she was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement. In addition to working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), Florence and Charles Tate founded the Dayton Alliance for Racial Equality (DARE).

In the late 1960s, Florence Tate embraced pan-Africanist causes, writing for the Black News Service. She served as a key organizer in the first African Liberation Day held in May 1972. She later became involved with advocating for Angolan independence. Following Portuguese withdrawl and the nation's takeover by the Soviet-backed People's Movement for Angolan Liberation (MPLA), Tate began to work with the Union for the Total Indepdence of Angola (UNITA), an Angolan nationalist movement lead by Jonas Savimbi.

In 1979, she joined the first Marion Barry Administration in Washington, DC as press secretary and in 1984, she worked on Senator Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign as a press secretary as well.

Following Jackson's loss in the primaries, she was a political communications consultant and active organizer for political causes in and around Washington until her death in 2014.

Acquisition information:
The Florence Tate Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2017.
Processing information:

Processed by David Romine, September 2017

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2017-0071


This collection is organized into four series: Personal Materials, Country and Subject Files, African Politics, and U.S. Politics.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Materials in the UNITA subseries of the African Politics Series are open for reading room research but have a view-only status. This means that researchers are not allowed to photograph or request reproductions from the UNITA materials. This restriction will be lifted in 2040.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Florence Tate Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.