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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

Heritage Trail showcases Daytona's Black history
Rating: 3.09 / 5 (35 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Jul 26 - 06:13

By Andreas Butler

For Hometown News

Daytona Beach is known for its beach, tourism and racing legacy but the city also has a rich African-American history.

Much of that history was rediscovered on the Second Annual Black Heritage Trail Walk on Saturday, July 20. Sites visited included Greater Friendship Baptist Church, Stewart-Memorial United Methodist Church, Masonic Lodge No. 36 and Dr. Howard Thurman's home.

"It's important not only for adults, but for our children," Ainez Stafford said. "A lot of our children don't know about the heritage that we have here in this city. They don't know the struggles that people went through to have businesses, churches and just make a life for themselves in general."

Ms. Stafford was one of the events' organizers. She is a retired social worker who volunteers at Florida Hospital and works with the WITNESS program that helps homeless women.

The trail is depicted on the city's website, which consists of historical and cultural sites throughout Daytona's black community.

Other sites on the trail that weren't visited that day include Bethune-Cookman University, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune's home and gravesite, B-CU Performing Arts Center, Freemanville historic site in Port Orange, Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Museum of Arts & Sciences, African-American Museum of Arts in DeLand, Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum and House in New Smyrna Beach, John H. Dickerson Community Center, Rose Marie Byron Children's Center, Mt Bethel Baptist Church, Samuel Butts Archaeological Park, Mt Zion AME Church, The Daytona Times Building, Bonner Elementary, Campbell Hotel, Daisy Stocking Park, Cypress Park and Recreation Center, New Mt. Zion Church and the Richard V. Moore Community Center (Old Stewart Memorial Church).

A group of local historians, including Daytona State College history professor Dr. Leonard Lempell, Harold Caldwell, Lionurd Tynes, Assistant City Manager Betty Goodman and others put together a booklet several years ago about the trail.

The trail itself also was inspired by the late Daytona Mayor Yvonne Scarlett-Golden.

The event was put on by Unified Ministry, which is an alliance of local black churches and ministries in Daytona Beach. They include A Touch of His Hem Ministry, Living Water Cathedral Church of the Living God, Mt Bethel Baptist Church, Mt Zion A.M.E Church, St Timothy's Episcopal Church and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

"We wanted to become more involved in some of the activities in the city," Ms. Stafford said.

The Howard Thurman house was the last stop on the tour. Dr. Thurman was an educator and theologian. He was a proponent of non-violent protest and had an impact on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At his home, poems were read by David Bonner III and Cheynne Dowdell.

Ms. Dowdell is a Mainland High School alumnus and Daytona State College student. She finished eighth in her category in a nationwide poetry contest hosted by rapper, Talib Khali.

Those who took part in the event were enlightened. They want others to learn and share in the experience.

"I thought today was more in depth compared to last year. This was my first time being at Howard Thurman's house. I believe that others should participate in this event. We need to have this stuff in our history books in schools," Pastor Shelia Turner said.

"Dr. Howard Thurman was my instructor when I attended Stetson. I learned a lot of new stuff about some of our churches. There is a lot of rich history here," local historian Benjamin Broxton said.

This year's turnout was smaller than expected, but organizers are looking forward to next year.

"Last year we had a bigger turnout but today the weather and Trayvon Martin rally affected our attendance. We will continue to do this for years to come," Ms. Stafford said.

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