Flagler County commissioners began to bridge the racial divide during the county’s 100th anniversary amidst commemorative events opened to the public April 29. The program rendered nostalgia to what it was like in 1917 during the shaping of the county.
Among the 100th-anniversary festivities were a run/walk, photo contest, classic car show and a kids’ zone. Other aspects were re-enactments, bringing to life Henry and Lily Flagler and the first Flagler County Commission and School Board. The occasion was the highlight of train rides, musical entertainment, and plenty of food to go around and enjoy.
Isaac I. Moody was the leader of the delegation attending the 1917 session of the Florida Legislature and requesting the creation of a new county.
Reflections from senator
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) reflected on how his grandparents eked out a living under the old Homestead Act across from Titusville, working the land for four consecutive years, and granted a deed by the U.S. government in 1917.
The land today is at the north end of the space shuttle runway, where young Congressman Nelson orbited Earth on a six-day mission in the space program.
Sen. Nelson affirmed that, “This is a great celebration and 100 years for you to appreciate the history of the east coast of Florida. This indeed is a red-letter day.”
‘Come a long way’
Another takeaway was the rereading of a proclamation at the May 1 County Commissioners’ meeting, initially read during the April 29 celebration.
Flagler County Commission Chair Nate McLaughlin said: “Flagler County is 100 years old this year, and we’ve come through quite a trail, and, for some, a bit of a trail of tears.
“We’ve struggled through a lot of things. We were born into a mindset of inequality in our community, in our country, and in the world, and we’ve come a long way. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, and we feel that it’s time to acknowledge those obstacles and reconcile ourselves with our neighbors and with each other. And so, I think this proclamation pretty much says the rest of it, so I’ll go ahead and read this now,” McLaughlin continued.
Members of Flagler’s Black leadership came forward to bear witness to the proclamation drafted by Commissioner McLaughlin in the proudest moment of his public life.
“I want to thank you, Mr. McLaughlin, and the rest of the County Commissioners for reading this proclamation on today and on last Saturday,” said Flagler County NAACP President Linda Sharpe Matthews.
Remembering the ancestors
“Though we think it is way overdue, we appreciate it in its entirety. As we go forward, I only hope that when we talk about Flagler County, that we do make sure we include all of the sacrifices and all of the contributions that people of color have made to the betterment of this community past and present,” said the branch president.
“… That history is being written every day, in this room, on the descendants of people who suffered and died with their sweat and determination to help build and carve out an economic future for Flagler County,” said John Winston, president emeritus of the African-American Mentoring Program for Boys in Flagler County.
“Somehow, in the annals of the records, they’ve been left out. You don’t see it in the papers, you don’t see it in the historical society. There’s something seriously wrong. It needs to be corrected. I thank you that you’re taking this first step, but let the work begin. Let it begin today,” added Winston.
The Rev. Daisy Mae Henry, former Bunnell City Commissioner, said: “I’d just like to say as a native, for the wheels that have been set in motion, I thank God because I’ve seen a lot of changes, and even though our hearts still reflect time; it’s time like Paul said (to), ‘Forget those things that are behind us and press toward the mark of the most high calling.’
“And the only way we are going to do it is unity,” Rev. Henry continued…“Sisco (Deen) is the historian for the Holden House, but he always has reached out to me, and asked me, ‘Daisy, what have you to offer?’
“I’ve given him names. He has pictures…I thank the commission today for coming forward, to mend the fences…where we’ve been wounded and charred down…but our history needs to be told,” continued Rev. Henry.
McLaughlin stated, “We are doing a time capsule and (if) you get a hold of me with whatever you want in that time capsule, it’ll go in. This proclamation is going in as part of my contribution…I know that things have been left out so whatever it is that needs to be written – photographs – whatever it is that we need to be put in that box, let’s include that and make it part of the record.’’
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.
Birthday wishes to Gloria Benjamin, Shirley Day, May 4; Cleveland Gaddis, May 8; and Louise Huesner, May 9.
Happy anniversary to Lloyd and Deborah Freckleton, May 9.