Called one of the most significant historical sites in Florida and perhaps the U.S. by Florida historian Canter Brown Jr., Angola is a story of struggle, tragedy and ultimately, survival in the quest for freedom. Angola also reveals Florida’s important role as a sanctuary for escaped slaves who established settlements, farmed, traded and traveled.
This month, descendants of these escaped slaves—many of whom live in the Bahamas where their ancestors found refuge—are returning to the Manatee Mineral Spring site for the first Back to Angola Festival. In September, the National Park Service is meeting to determine if Angola qualifies as part of the Underground Railroad Network of Freedom of Freedom. “From what I know now, this is one of the largest Florida settlements of resisters to enslavement,” says Sheri Jackson, southeast regional manager of the program.