Race, Mobility, and Fantasy: Afromobiling in Tropical Florida
Knight Lozano, Henry
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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This article explores a popular tourist vehicle in early twentieth century Florida: the Afromobile. Beginning in the 1890s, Afromobiling referred to the white tourist experience of travelling in a wheelchair propelled by an African American hotel employee in South Florida. Most prominent in Palm Beach, these wheelchairs developed into a heavily promoted tourist activity in the region. Using promotional imagery and literary sources this paper traces the development of Afromobiling as a tourist vehicle that played upon South Florida’s tropical environs. It argues that the vehicle’s popularity related to its enactment of benign racial hierarchy and controlled black mobility. Moreover, the Afromobile infused U.S. fantasies about South Florida as a tropical and ‘oriental’ paradise for white leisure.