Municipalities celebrate local Black history with banners
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
It’s Black History Month! And although we should always recognize the achievements, accomplishments, lives and legacies of African Americans in this country, February just happens to be the month we do it the most.
On Feb. 1, Greater Union Life Center (GLCU) kicked off its annual DeLand Downtown Historical Banner campaign by revealing banners honoring local African Americans who have made contributions to the community.
“You have to understand that it wasn’t many decades ago that Blacks weren’t allowed downtown in DeLand,” said Mario Davis, director of the Greater Union Life Center.
“There is still a stigma. A lot of minorities don’t go downtown but need to. These banners show that the White community is accepting and welcoming. Most of the support comes from White donors.”
Grimes among honorees
Retired Judge Hubert L. Grimes is one of those honored with a banner in DeLand.
“It is a very nice honor. Like Dr. King said, ‘Everybody likes to be honored,’ ’’ Grimes stated. “I am very humbled and appreciative. I hope to inspire young people to pursue their dreams.”
Grimes reiterated the importance of Black history.
“I minored in Black history in college. It’s important to honor those who pioneered in so many areas who open doors for others. We have talented people who worked in various fields. I hope others study our history, learn it and never forget so they can stand on our shoulders and go further,” he added.
The banners will be displayed on Woodland Boulevard from Howry Avenue to Ohio Avenue throughout the month.
The DeLand Downtown Historical Banner program is done at or around Black History Month every year. The program is in its fifth year.
“It was suggested to us by a local community pillar and it kind of took off,” Davis noted.
The endeavor has spread to other local municipalities, including Lake Helen, Deltona, and now Daytona Beach.
“It started in DeLand and it was such a success, then we went over to Lake Helen. Then we reached out to other surrounding municipalities,” added Davis.
In DeLand, the following 16 individuals are honored on the banners:
- Hubert Grimes, first Black judge in Volusia County, first Black circuit judge
- Barbara Girtman, Volusia County Council, West Volusia Hospital Authority
- Dr. Primrose Cameron, educator and community advocate
- Mario Davis, executive director, MLK Committee, community leader
- Mary Allen, executive director, DeLand African American Museum of the Arts
- William J. Anderson, first Black police chief, City of DeLand
- Dr. Felicia Benzo, founder and director, Catalysts Youth Initiatives, author
- Tom Bush, DeLand High Athletic Hall of Fame and one of its first Black coaches
- Dr. Tiffany Grant, MLK Committee, educator
- Richard Hopkins, MLK DeLand founder, community leader
- Ray and William Mae Johnson, philanthropists, community leaders
- Joan Lane, civil rights leader, educator
- JoJo O’Neal, radio personality, community advocate
- Julian Robinson, World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veteran, community leader
- Deacon Charles Williamson, school engineer, community leader
- Reginald Williams, pastor chair, MLK Committee, community advocate
Sponsors in DeLand include: Greater Union Life Center, the City of DeLand, Advent Health, Stetson University and WCA Waste Corporation.
Daytona inaugural banners
This is the first year the banners are being displayed in Daytona. It kicked off with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the King holiday observance on Jan 18.
The banners are displayed along International Speedway Boulevard from Nova Road to just past Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
In Daytona, a new set of banners will go up on Feb. 15 and will stay up until March 31.
The Midtown Community Development Corporation (MCDC), City of Daytona Beach, NAACP, Daytona Tortugas, Identity Church and Medallion Inc. have partnered to sponsor the endeavor.
“We’ve had many notable historical figures in and from Daytona who often get overlooked. There were many that fought for equality and justice. This is a way to recognize and honor them,” said Donna Gray-Banks, CEO, Midtown Community Development Corporation.
“We always have Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Richard V. Moore and Jackie Robinson who are known but there are so many more. As a community, we want them to know that we understood what they did,” she added.
In Daytona, the following 16 Black history makers will be honored on banners.
- Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder and first president of Bethune-Cookman University, civil rights activist
- Dr. Richard V. Moore, president, Bethune-Cookman, civil rights and community activist
- Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, Daytona Beach first Black and second female mayor, educator, civil rights activist
- Jackie Robinson, broke Major League Baseball color barrier
- Rose Marie Byron, educator, education advocate
- Dr. Evelyn Stocking Crosslin, medical doctor, advocate, volunteer
- Minnie Wiggins Campbell, owner of Campbell Hotel
- Mary Evelyn Bonner, educator, principal of Cypress Street Elementary (Bonner)
- Herbert Lee Thompson, mortician, business owner, philanthropist
- Charles W. Cherry, Sr., civil rights activist, Daytona Beach city councilman, Realtor, Daytona Times and Florida Courier founder
- Merrell Charles Lloyd, owner of Lloyd’s Electric, electrician
- Samuel James “Rip” Collins, Sr., educator, community activist, Campbell High coach
- James E. Huger, Sr., Montford Point Marine, first Black on Daytona Beach City Commission and Volusia County Council
Attempts to reach contacts for the banner honorees in Lake Helen and Deltona were unsuccessful as of the Daytona Times’ deadline.