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The Life of Bill Baggs: This is not a simple life, my friend,
and there are no simple answers.

The late editor of the late Miami News, Bill Baggs, stamped these words on plain white postcards and sent them to readers who sent him hate mail―a frequent occurrence, as Baggs, a white editor of a prominent southern newspaper, championed unpopular ideas in his front-page columns, such as protecting the environment, desegregating public schools, and peace in Vietnam. A prolific journalist, avid conservationist, and Miami advocate, he wrote over 3000 columns for the Miami News; under his leadership, the newspaper earned three Pulitzer Prizes – and gained a State Park named in his memory.

Key Biscayners and visitors from beyond the bridge enjoy what Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park has to offer – often without knowing much about its history or the man it is named after. In the 1950’s, real estate developers were planning to build hotels, single family homes, and condominiums on the property. The developers cut down every single tree on 400 acres, including in the mangrove wetlands, and filled it in with dredged material to level the area for development.

Baggs, a passionate advocate for Miami, bombarded the newspaper with editorials and open letters emphasizing the importance of protecting the land from development. He campaigned for the state to purchase it and after negotiating with owner Elena Santeiro Garcia to cut her asking price in half, the land acquired by the
state in 1966.

Many surprising details about the remarkable life of Bill Baggs and the immense influence he had on our community can be discovered in Amy Paige Condon’s new book: A Nervous Man Shouldn’t Be Here in the First Place: The Life of Bill Baggs, widely available now, including at the Park’s Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage.

The Friends of Cape Florida, a Citizens Support Organization (CSO), continues to promote, protect, and restore the natural and cultural resources of the park. Their annual fundraiser is this Saturday, April 16th 8PM to midnight, inside the park, adjacent to the historic lighthouse. Tickets on EventBrite “DancingInTheMoonlight” or @BillBaggsFullMoon

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