Founded in 1890, the FSTA existed as the sole statewide professional association for Black educators of every rank in Florida until merged with the all-White Florida Education Association (FEA) in 1966. Strengthened by strong leadership with connections to elite Northern institutions, and a broad Black intellectual community, the FSTA was founded by Thomas Desalle Tucker at the beginning of his tenure as President of State Normal College for Colored Students later renamed Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Tucker’s aimed for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to become a strong liberal arts institution, similar in content to his former institution, State Normal College. Tucker was forced to resign from FAMU in 1898 as he reorganized and expanded the University’s offerings to reflect an emphasis on humanities coursework as well as natural sciences and trades instead of the vocational learning Whites deemed Blacks suitable to have. William Sheets, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, adamantly disagreed with Tucker’s vision, noting that Tucker was “providing training ‘void of the results of the kind for which the money was furnished’.Tucker was summarily fired by the Florida Board of Education.
James Weldon Johnson followed Tucker as president of FSTA president in 1898. During his tenure as President, Johnson, principal of Stanton High School in Jacksonville, Florida composed the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,”. Nathan B. Young, President of FAMU from 1901-1923, served as President of the FSTA from 1907-1910 and Mary McLeod Bethune, President of Bethune-Cookman College, followed as President from 1919-1920.