Born in 1923, Baggs shaped the journalistic voice of Miami as the editor of The Miami News from 1957 to 1969. He was one of a small group of Southern newspaper editors who campaigned for civil rights for African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the halls of academia and in creative spaces, heated discussions take place regarding who has the right to tell whose story. Author Amy Paige Condon tells the story of “The Life of Bill Baggs” without painting him as a white savior or overplaying his friendship with world leaders and the unsung heroes of Miami’s civil rights struggle. When Rev. Theodore Roosevelt Gibson, the head of Miami’s NAACP chapter, walked into Baggs’s office in December 1966, he said: “I want to know you.” With his signature lopsided grin and a handshake Baggs asked: “Why don’t you sit down and tell me what you think this civil rights business is all about?”
Bill Baggs relied on friendships he forged across racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds to get to the truth of the human condition, just as much as those friends depended on him to use his platform to raise and amplify their voices. With her book “A Nervous Man Shouldn’t Be Here in the First Place” Paige endeavors to demonstrate through the story of Bill Baggs’s life, that none of us make progress alone. She offers a piece of Miami history and a glimpse into how the journalist and activist helped shape it into the city we live in today.
The book is available at the Bill Baggs Cape Florida gift shop inside the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage adjacent to the lighthouse.