BY JAMES HARPER
With about three weeks before the grand opening of the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural and Educational Center, the family of its namesake expressed its appreciation for the honor of Daytona Beach’s first Black mayor.
“Words cannot convey the sincere gratitude that we feel to know that my grandmother’s work was not in vain and that the city would choose to honor her in such an awesome way,” Wanda Only, Scarlett-Golden’s granddaughter, told the Daytona Times this week.
Only, who was designated as executor of her grandmother’s estate, said Scarlett-Golden cared about Daytona and all of its citizens.
“Daytona Beach was her home, and we are truly thankful that the Center will always serve as a memorial to her and her commitment to make a positive contribution to and in her community and to all mankind,” said Only, daughter of Rosalyn Delancy, Scarlett-Golden’s daughter who died in 1997.
The early years
Scarlett-Golden was a native Daytonan, who attended Campbell Street Elementary, Kaiser Laboratory and Campbell Street Senior High.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from then-Bethune-Cookman College and earned a Master of Arts degree in education from Boston University. She began her teaching career in Florida where she taught at the elementary, middle school, high school and college levels.
She married Charles H. “Toby” Golden, a U.S. Air Force serviceman and they would eventually relocate to Taipei, Taiwan, where she joined the faculty of the Taipei American School.
Upon returning to the U.S., she and her family settled in San Francisco where Scarlett-Golden worked her way up to becoming principal of Alamo Park High School for 20 years.
While at Alamo Park, she spearheaded a successful effort to rename the school in commemoration of Ida B. Wells, the anti-lynching and feminist crusader of the late 1800s.
Returns home to serve
After 25 years in the San Francisco school system, Scarlett-Golden would eventually return to Daytona and embark on a political career.
She served four terms as the Zone 5 city commissioner and then tossed her hat in the ring for mayor in 2003. She defeated all of her competitors and became the city’s first Black mayor. She was re-elected to a second mayoral term in 2005.
Scarlett-Golden would not finish out her second term because of an unforeseen illness. She died on Dec. 5, 2006, after a battle with cancer.
She was 80 years old.
Brother: Status didn’t matter
Carlton Scarlett, Scarlett-Golden’s 84-year-old brother, who still lives in Daytona Beach and is a deacon at Greater Friendship Baptist Church, said his sister always cared about other people.
“There were four boys and she was the third child,” he told the Daytona Times. Scarlett noted that he and his brother Donald, 85, who also lives in Daytona, are the only living siblings.
“She was a person who was always concerned about people – as a schoolteacher, activist. Her biggest concern was the poor people of this city. She wanted to do something for the people. A person’s status didn’t matter to Yvonne. She would listen to anyone. When she was mayor and a commissioner, anyone could always go to her as individual. A person’s status didn’t matter,” he reflected.
Brother visited site
Scarlett said he has visited the site of the center being built in his sister’s honor.
He agrees with niece Wanda Only that the city has done a great job honoring his sister. Scarlett is looking forward to the grand opening of the facility, which is tentatively scheduled for later this month.
Scarlett said he is not worried about the delays in the opening of the center and is grateful the city was able to come up with additional funds to furnish the facility. The new center will be located on the corner of Third Avenue and Vine Street in Daytona Beach.
“I understand how they can run into financial problems to get the center open. I understand how that works. I’m not complaining. I’ve been out there two or three times to look at the structure. I don’t have any problems,” Scarlett added.
Courtney Omega, another granddaughter of Scarlett-Golden, said she would have liked to have seen the family more involved in the construction of the center. She also wants to help with the planning of the grand opening program.
Omega contacted the Daytona Times saying she first called city officials last October informing them that there should have been more involvement by the family.
“The family is the first person to contact. Don’t contact us when it is getting ready to open. The family was not involved; we didn’t have any say,” said Omega, who now lives in Miami.
Williamson said the city has been in contact with her sister, Wanda Only, who was the executor of the estate appointed by Scarlett-Golden before she passed.
Assistant City Manager Betty Goodman told the Daytona Times that several Daytona Beach staff members and Mayor (Derrick) Henry have communicated with Omega on a number of occasions to give her information on the status of the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural and Educational Center.
“We are also making contact with other members of the Scarlett-Golden family. At this time, we do not have a certificate of occupancy and furniture hasn’t been delivered or installed, therefore, a date for the grand opening has not been established. We will notify the family and the public as soon as a date is announced. The city is looking forward to opening the community center. It is a remarkable facility – one that Mayor Scarlett-Golden would be very proud to have in her community,” Goodman stated.
The family also has been asked for artifacts from Scarlett-Golden to place in the center.
Scarlett-Golden had two daughters who preceded her in death – Omega’s mom, Rosalyn Golden Delancy, who died in 1997, and her sister Wanda Golden who died in 1982.
Pushed for center
Scarlett-Golden was the Daytona Beach commissioner for Zone 5 when she responded to the community’s outcries that such a facility was needed in the area, said Percy Williamson, who in 2003 had just been hired as the city’s Leisure Services director.
Williamson, a Daytona native, who in 2003 had been working in the banking industry in Jacksonville, said had it not been for Scarlett-Golden and former Daytona Beach Commissioner (and Daytona Times founder) Charles W. Cherry, Sr., he would not be in the city 10 years later preparing for the grand opening. The two recruited him to apply for the job in Daytona Beach.
Scarlett-Golden was replaced by car dealership owner Glenn Ritchey, who says she asked him to be her replacement as mayor.
“Promises made, promises kept,” said Ritchey last year at the groundbreaking ceremony of the $2.9 million center.
Current Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said he is honored to be in office during the opening of the center and is grateful that Scarlett-Golden helped paved the way for him being elected the second Black mayor of the city.
Henry said a representative of the family likely will be asked to speak at the grand opening, which he said will focus on “our appreciation for what Mayor Golden did for our city.”
Added Henry, “She will forever be remembered for her strong and infectious personality, her tireless advocacy for the disenfranchised and as a gifted political force who was able to build bridges between the African-American community and the establishment to serve as the first African-American mayor of Daytona Beach.’’
Rep. Taylor: She paved the way
As a city commissioner, Henry represented the zone where the facility is located. He noted it was the brainchild of former Zone 5 Commissioner Dwayne Taylor (now a Florida State Representative) to name the center after Scarlett-Golden.
Taylor succeeded Scarlett-Golden as the Zone 5 commissioner.
“She represented Zone 5 for many years. That was her district. I remember how tough and tenacious she was when some said she would not become mayor. She was a trendsetter in doing what others said couldn’t be done,” Taylor told the Daytona Times. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for people like her. She paved the way for me to run for the State House.’’
Daytona Beach commissioners voted unanimously last month to increase the budget allotted for the center by $330,000 to help furnish it.
Initially, back in December 2011, the commission authorized $2,689,000 for the construction of the center but that amount did not include landscaping or funds to purchase furniture, finishes, equipment and other amenities.
The funds will help finish the gym, which needs flooring, bleachers, basketball backboards, a remote-control scoreboard and volleyball nets in addition to other furniture for the center.
Inside the center
Williamson said the closing of the YMCA left a void in the community located on the north side of the city.
Although there still exists tennis and basketball courts and a field for soccer and baseball in the area, there still is a need for an indoor facility.
The new one-story building includes a courtyard in the center showcasing an open-air amphitheater. Inside the building there are plans for a library; a gym; small theater; reading center; studios for photography, computer animation and painting; spaces for art and dance classes; rooms to learn about ecology, zoology and biology; after-school programs and homework assistance; and a permanent historic exhibit featuring memorabilia celebrating Scarlett-Golden and the neighborhood.
The center was designed to have minimal impact on the environment.