BY ASHLEY THOMAS
Two welcome signs have been erected near the police station on Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach to pay tribute to the African ties of the area.
The signs welcome visitors and residents to Ormond areas referred to as Sudan and Liberia, reminding them of the history that lies within the area.
Although some questions still remain, former Ormond Beach resident Michael Gibson is trying to unearth answers about years gone by.
“For generations people referred to the area North of Granada Boulevard on Washington Street as Sudan and the area South of Washington Street as Liberia,” Gibson said, adding that no one really knew why.
Granada, a main thoroughfare, is divided by Washington Street. On one side of Granada is called Liberia and the other side is referred to as Sudan.
While doing a bit of research, Gibson found a newspaper clipping about the neighborhood that explained that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, descendants of slaves brought to America from Africa settled in Ormond Beach. They named their community after the countries their ancestors came from – Liberia and Sudan.
After finding more information, Gibson approached Mayor Ed Kelly, requesting that signs be erected in the community.
Following that conversation, Gibson, with the help of other Ormond Beach residents – including his sister Michelle Gibson-Babbs – proposed adding two welcome signs to the community and brought the idea before Ormond Beach’s Quality of Life Advisory Board during a March 1 meeting.
The board voted unanimously for the welcome signs identifying the Liberia and Sudan areas of Ormond Beach and recommended the proposal to the Ormond city commission. The commission in turn approved the measure at an April 3 meeting. By April 18, the signs were up.
Visitors take note
While vacationing in Daytona Beach, Dr. Denise Avent of Emporia, Va., stopped by the site of the newly placed signs and explained that the recognition of the area took her to a different place in time.
“There was a sense of home, belonging and identity,” said Avent. “A sense of yes, we (African-Americans) have been here a long time and have contributed in many ways to the building of this community – an example of how two separate communities were able to coexist in harmony.”
“The signs are important because they will generate conversation and remind us to always remember our ancestors,” she added.
More information on the Sudan and Liberia areas of Ormond Beach can be found on the city’s website at www.ormondbeach.org/history.