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Six Ways to Explore Black History in our Backyard

February 4, 2022

Did you know Brewster Hospital, Jacksonville’s first hospital for African Americans, was also the first training hospital for African Americans in the nation? 

When did you learn about the recordings of renowned author Zora Neale Hurston and various African American residents telling stories and chanting traditional music at the Clara White Mission? 

Has anyone ever told you about the “Old Stanton School” and how it was the first secondary school for Black children in Florida? 

Black History Month is a time to intentionally uplift the triumphs and the challenges of Black people in our country and in Northeast Florida, but the celebration and recognition of local Black history goes well beyond what can be covered in a month and has deep roots right here in our community. To take a deeper dive into Black history in our backyard, check out these resources: 

  • 904WARD – Remember our past to better our future through webinars, remembrance ceremonies and open conversations regarding race. 
  • The African American Heritage Trail – Celebrate African-American history in Northeast Florida through the public art scene around the city, and visit historic landmarks such as the childhood home of author Zora Neale Hurston. 
  • The A.L. Lewis Museum at American Beach, FL – Founded in 1935 by Jacksonville’s own Afro-American Life Insurance Company, American Beach was the first black resort community in the state and the only beach in Northeast Florida where African Americans could enjoy “recreation and relaxation without humiliation.” 
  • Jacksonville Public Library’s African-American Collection – Through books, photographs, newspapers and more, the African-American Collection brings to life the historical, social, civic, religious, economic and cultural life of African Americans in Northeast Florida. 
  • Ritz Theatre and Museum – Constructed on the site of the 1929 Ritz Theatre movie house in Jacksonville’s historic African-American community of La Villa, the museum exhibit of African-American history tells the story of everyday life in Northeast Florida. 
  • Unless WE Tell it… it Never Gets Told – Written by local civil rights activist Rodney L. Hurst Sr. this book focuses on the Black history and the Civil Rights history of Jacksonville and examines racism in our city, state and country.

When we make intentional efforts to shine a light on the history of Black Americans, we acknowledge and appreciate their contributions to society as well as better understand how the afflictions of yesterday continue to affect the inequities we see today. To learn how you can play a personal role in improving racial equity in our community, join us for the inaugural Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference Aug 25-27.