Family, friends mourn passing of activist Norma Bland
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Mrs. Bland, 71, died from COVID-19-related issues at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach on July 31.
“She was a force for bettering our community. What she meant to the community can’t be quantified in words,’’ said Mark Lewis, her cousin. “She was passionate about every Black kid getting a good education and every Black family having access to affordable housing. Everyone knew and respected her, even those in position of authority.’’
Her niece, Nataleese Stalling, echoed, “Her presence will be missed. Her love will be missed. She did so much for everyone. She did so many things in the community.”
Cathy Washington is a lifetime friend and high school classmate of Bland.
“Norma always encouraged people. She was a very giving person who had a big heart. She had no problem speaking out and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
“She did a lot of community and social work. She did for everybody,’’ Washington said.
Mrs. Bland was a member of the Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP. She served on its executive committee and chaired its legal regress committee.
“What can I say? Norma Joe was hardworking, upfront, and did not sugarcoat anything. She was a pillar of the community. She was a friend,” said Cynthia Slater, president of the local branch.
“She was a soldier in the civil rights movement all her life. Her work was to make life better in her community.”
Mrs. Bland also did activism and community service through an organization she created and served as its president – the Citizens Coalition to Improve Race Relations in Daytona Beach.
The organization often hosted holiday feedings and giveaways, including Christmas gifts and turkey giveaways during the holidays.
Campbell, B-CU grad
Mrs. Bland was born and raised in Daytona Beach. She graduated from Campbell Sr. High in 1967.
After high school, she moved up north and lived in Philadelphia. During her life, she traveled the country and worked with several civil rights organizations. In 2001, she returned to Daytona Beach.
Mrs. Bland was influenced by and marched with Daytona Times founder, the late Charles W. Cherry Sr.
“Norma often spoke about how Dad influenced her to always speak up,” said Charles W. Cherry II, the Daytona Times’ former publisher. “Our family is as shocked by her death as is the rest of our community. Her distinctive voice will ring in our heads for awhile. She’s missed already.”
Her professional career included teaching. She was a mental counselor at both Stewart Marchman Act and Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU).
Mrs. Bland has a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Bethune-Cookman University with honors.
She was scheduled to earn another master’s from B-CU in August. Mrs. Bland has a bachelor’s degree in Supervision and Management from Daytona State College and another associates of arts degree from Daytona State.
All of her collegiate degrees were with honors.
Mrs. Bland’s family will hold a private ceremony in her honor.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert Bland.
Mrs. Bland is survived by her son, Ralph Walton (Lisa); 95-year old mother, Maggie Wyman; sister, Montrose Stalling; two nieces, three nephews and several great-nieces, great nephews, cousins, and other relatives.
R.J. Gainous Funeral Home in Daytona Beach is in charge of arrangements.