Discovering Fort Lauderdale's African America History
The Old Dillard High School in Broward County now serves as a museum displaying artifacts of local African American heritage.
Florida has a rich and diverse history. Landmarks and legacies reflecting the African-American history exist in various locations throughout the state. The following African-American historical sites can be found in Broward County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
The “Colored Beach”
6503 North Ocean Drive
In the early 1950s the northern tip of what is today Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park was purchased by the Broward County Commission for use as the “Colored Beach.” Beachgoers took a ferry from Port Everglades across the Intracoastal to reach the beach until a road was built in 1965. (954) 923-2833.
St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church
145 NW 5th Avenue
Founded by Charlie Chambers in 1908 and named in honor of his daughter, the St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church was the first black church in Dania and housed the first “colored” school. The bell tolled to call the congregation to service and to mark the death of a black member of the community. (954) 922-2529.
The African American Research Library and Cultural Center
2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
The African American Research Library and Cultural Center, research facility, and cultural center contains 85,000 books, documents and artifacts by and about people of African descent, a community cultural center, a 300- seat auditorium, meeting rooms, exhibit areas, a historic archive, a viewing and listening center and other historical material on black history in Broward County, South Florida, the Caribbean, the African Diaspora and the nation. Also included are papers of W.E.B. DuBois, the Langston Hughes Collection, the Bethune-Cookman College Collection, the Alex Haley collection, and the papers of Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. (954) 357-6282
Old Dillard High School
1009 NW 4th Street
This Masonry Vernacular structure, one of the oldest buildings in the city, was built in 1924. The Old Dillard High School was the first black school in Fort Lauderdale and named in honor of James H. Dillard, a philanthropist, educator and promoter of education for blacks. Now a museum, exhibits include a recreated historic classroom, art display and artifacts of local African American history. (754) 322-8828,
Adapted from Florida Black Heritage Trail, published by the Florida Department of State, in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, copyright 2007. For more information on African American sites, please visit flheritage.com. Additional information can also be found at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/milesmedia/floridablackheritage/