BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Celebrating five years in its existence, the “I Am Ormond Beach” reunion took place July 12-16. The reunion celebrates the history of the African-Americans of Ormond as well as the African ties recently discovered by Michael Gibson, president of the “I Am Ormond Beach” committee.
“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.
As previously reported in the Daytona Times, 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.
Signs recently were erected in Ormond Beach directing citizens to each area’s namesakes.
Embassy dignitaries included in reunion
During the reunion, a golf tournament and other reunion activities were held including a luncheon with a special guest from the Embassy of the Republic of Liberia.
Dr. Edison Jackson, interim president of Bethune-Cookman University, was among the guests at the July 12 luncheon. Jackson, along with Gibson and others, greeted Catherine Nmah from the Embassy of the Republic of Liberia as her plane landed in Daytona Beach.
“It is because of those who came across the Atlantic we can come together today,” Jackson remarked during the luncheon. “If we don’t understand from whence we’ve come,” he said, then paused. “We won’t know where we are going,” the crowd answered.
“This is a community thing. Not a Black thing, or a White thing but an Ormond Beach thing,” Gibson said.
Proclamation from Liberia read
Before reading a proclamation expressing thanks from Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Liberia to the United States, Nmah explained to those gathered that the people of Liberia are warriors, asking the assembled to join with her in a customary call. “When I say ‘Batio-Bati,’ you say ‘Bati,’” to which the crowd happily obliged.