Daytona State College rededicates building named after Black administrator
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Daytona State College has honored James Griffen Greene, the first and only president of the segregated Volusia Community College. The ceremony was held on Feb. 12.
Volusia County Community College (VCCC) was an African American community college in Daytona Beach during segregation.
“It’s important to remember the work done by those who came before us, such as Volusia County Community College’s President, J. Griffen Greene,” said Dr. Tom LoBasso, president of Daytona State College. “We are rededicating the J. Griffen Greene Center to celebrate his accomplishments, life and impact on thousands of men and women throughout the community who received an education because of his efforts.
“President Greene helped strengthen this community through the power of education, and I hope he would have been proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and what we’ll be able to do in the future.”
Volusia County Community College was established in 1957 and designed to address the educational needs of the Black community. The school opened its doors on Sept. 2, 1958 as one of 12 Black junior colleges authorized by Gov. LeRoy Collins and the Community College Council. It offered the first two years of a four-year degree with vocational and adult education.
The school was temporarily housed at storefront locations at 875 Second Ave. (now Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard) and at Campbell High School (Dickerson Center) for physical education, seasonal swimming lessons and vocational technology courses.
In 1960, the College Parallel program, library and administration moved to a newly built facility on Loomis Avenue and Lockhart Street.
In 1962, technical programs were added and merged with existing ones and created a new division. An electrical department was also added.
Greene oversaw the college’s growth from 1,334 students at the beginning to 5,600 by 1964. The school had satellite campuses in New Smyrna Beach, DeLand and Crescent City.
VCCC merged with Daytona Beach Junior College in 1965 because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Greene and the institution played a critical role in educating the Black community. For the students who attended the school and can remember Greene, there are still fond memories of both Greene and the school.
There is also still a sense of pride, respect and a strong bond.
Retired educator Ben Broxton was one of the first students to attend the school from 1958 to 1960. “President Greene lived on Keech Street. His wife was the school librarian. They had two children I believe.”
Retired educator Patricia Heard also attended VCCC from 1960 to 1962.
“I remember Mr. Greene coming to our house when I lived in the South Street projects and offering me a scholarship,” recalled Heard. “He was a very kind and loving person. He kept us in line. He had a professional staff and they treated us like family. We were family.”
After the merger, Greene was vice president of the Volusia Center where sophomores from VCCC completed their studies during the 1965-66 academic year. Greene then served as an administrator at Daytona Beach Junior College as dean of continuing education.
He later taught in the English and education departments at Bethune-Cookman College (now University) from 1973 to 1976. He retired in 1978.
Greene was born in Montezuma, Georgia in 1911. He lost his arm at the elbow when he was 12 years old.
He was a longtime member of Stewart-Memorial Methodist United Church. Greene died in 1987.
As part of the “Great 2000 Floridians” program to celebrate the turn of the century, Greene was recognized by the Florida Department of State for his contributions to the community.