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Author Topic: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow  (Read 337 times)

Offline tusk91

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During the dark days of Jim Crow, Florida, which had a higher number of lynchings per capita than any other state, was one of the most dangerous places in America for black people. But it was also home to Paradise Park, one of the rare successful recreational facilities in the South exclusively for black Americans, which opened along the edge of the Silver River in 1949.


“Paradise Park was an oasis where Americans could go with their families and relax, safe from the indignities and threats of violence perpetrated by whites. [Manager] Eddie Vereen ran the park like a peaceable kingdom where all were made to feel welcome. Even the alligators left people alone,” said Lu Vickers via email. Vickers, with Cynthia Wilson-Graham, wrote Remembering Paradise Park, which University Press of Florida published this month.


Link:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2015/09/24/lu_vickers_and_cynthia_wilson_graham_explore_the_florida_attraction_paradise.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_tw_top'


Offline Jaimac

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2015, 11:07:28 AM »
Thanks for posting the story link.   :nod:
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
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Offline Strike79

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2015, 11:32:18 AM »
Wow!!!...........the photos accompanying this story were fascinating.

And what is REALLY interesting about this story for me is that Paradise Park, the subject of this thread, was a separate tourist attraction for black folks situated right next to Silver Springs.  I remember as a child - somewhere late 60's/early 70's - my parents taking me and my four siblings to Silver Springs.  So it appears that when we were at Silver Springs, it was apparently right after the time when black folks were first permitted to visit there.

Those of you from the Sunshine State who are, say, over 50, will remember a time when there were separate beaches for white and black folks.  My earliest memory of going to the beach in my home county of Palm Beach was somewhere in the mid-60's.  It was located in Juno Beach, in the northern part of PBC, and I remember the visitors being exclusively black.  It could very well be that black folks were then permitted to go anywhere they wanted to, and continued going to the "black" beach out of custom.

Man, there was a VERY NICE separate area with a pavilion and all, and expansive space for grilling and the like.  You then crossed a parking lot and you were on the ocean.  Especially on July 4, you would see people that you hadn't seen all year.  I don't wish to sound too "romantic" about all of this because Florida has a VICIOUS racial history, and black folks caught hell during the time BEFORE the mid-60's.   :(

But I was last home in PBC during the first seven days this past July, visited the area that used to be home for the former black beach, and was absolutely HEARTBROKEN to see nothing but condo developments up and down the coast where we used to recreate on the beach.  :'(

This story of Paradise Park is reviving some STRONG memories for me.  :(

Offline tusk91

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2015, 12:06:13 PM »
Wow!!!...........the photos accompanying this story were fascinating.

And what is REALLY interesting about this story for me is that Paradise Park, the subject of this thread, was a separate tourist attraction for black folks situated right next to Silver Springs.  I remember as a child - somewhere late 60's/early 70's - my parents taking me and my four siblings to Silver Springs.  So it appears that when we were at Silver Springs, it was apparently right after the time when black folks were first permitted to visit there.

Those of you from the Sunshine State who are, say, over 50, will remember a time when there were separate beaches for white and black folks.  My earliest memory of going to the beach in my home county of Palm Beach was somewhere in the mid-60's.  It was located in Juno Beach, in the northern part of PBC, and I remember the visitors being exclusively black.  It could very well be that black folks were then permitted to go anywhere they wanted to, and continued going to the "black" beach out of custom.

Man, there was a VERY NICE separate area with a pavilion and all, and expansive space for grilling and the like.  You then crossed a parking lot and you were on the ocean.  Especially on July 4, you would see people that you hadn't seen all year.  I don't wish to sound too "romantic" about all of this because Florida has a VICIOUS racial history, and black folks caught hell during the time BEFORE the mid-60's.   :(

But I was last home in PBC during the first seven days this past July, visited the area that used to be home for the former black beach, and was absolutely HEARTBROKEN to see nothing but condo developments up and down the coast where we used to recreate on the beach.  :'(

This story of Paradise Park is reviving some STRONG memories for me.  :(

My middle brother who is over 50 emailed me the story. He and our older brother said they remember being in that boat displayed on one of the pictures.

Another funny thing is that Silver Springs itself is now closed.


Offline ncsiacfan

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2015, 02:08:24 PM »
Does anyone remember Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville?  It was the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.

Offline Strike79

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2015, 02:49:43 PM »
Does anyone remember Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville?  It was the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.
???..............not sure what you mean by "remember" Fernandina Beach?  It is a municipality in Nassau County, FL, and still very much exists.

Are you referring to some kind of black resort that was located in Fernandina Beach?  :shrug:

Offline soflorattler

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2015, 02:51:10 PM »
Black folks from central Florida went the black beach at New Symrna. I remember every summer growing up, our church picnic being there. Integration, we migrated to Daytona Beach where you could drive on the beach.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 08:03:34 PM by soflorattler »

Offline soflorattler

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 02:57:51 PM »
Does anyone remember Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville?  It was the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.
???..............not sure what you mean by "remember" Fernandina Beach?  It is a municipality in Nassau County, FL, and still very much exists.

Are you referring to some kind of black resort that was located in Fernandina Beach?  :shrug:

Yes. Mainly all white now. I have a couple of co-workers who live there.

Offline ncsiacfan

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 06:59:11 PM »
Yes the black resort. I guess it was New Smyrna Beach.

Offline soflorattler

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 08:09:51 PM »
Yes the black resort. I guess it was New Smyrna Beach.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethune_Beach,_Florida

Bethune Beach is an unincorporated community in Volusia County, Florida, United States.
Bethune Beach is located south of New Smyrna Beach, Florida (with Silver Sands in between), and its southern border is the northern end of the Canaveral National Seashore. Due to its remote location, Bethune Beach is accessible by only one road, County Road A1A, entry being permitted only from the north. There is no outlet to the mainland, and the Canaveral National Seashore and the Kennedy Space Center lies to the south.
The area is now populated with large and expensive beach homes.

The town was once the only beach that African Americans were permitted to use in Volusia County during the first half of the century and is named after the famous black educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. In 2007, Bethune Beach residents overwhelmingly voted to reject an annexation attempt by New Smyrna Beach.

Offline ncsiacfan

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 08:24:48 PM »
I enjoyed the long trips to the north to visit relatives, but it was one of the highlights of my young life.
On the way home from Florida, we stopped by Waycross, Georgia near the Okefenokee Swamp to visit relatives and I could not wait to get back to Atlanta.

Offline SkegeeFAMU

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2015, 09:14:22 PM »
Does anyone remember Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville?  It was the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.
???..............not sure what you mean by "remember" Fernandina Beach?  It is a municipality in Nassau County, FL, and still very much exists.

Are you referring to some kind of black resort that was located in Fernandina Beach?  :shrug:

I think he's referring to American Beach, which is right next to Fernadina Beach!!!
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Offline Strike79

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2015, 09:28:30 PM »
Does anyone remember Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville?  It was the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.
???..............not sure what you mean by "remember" Fernandina Beach?  It is a municipality in Nassau County, FL, and still very much exists.

Are you referring to some kind of black resort that was located in Fernandina Beach?  :shrug:

I think he's referring to American Beach, which is right next to Fernadina Beach!!!
:nod:.........indeed! I think you're absolutely correct,

Just googled it and discovered that American Beach is a popular beach community with black folks, located on Amelia Island, also in Nassau Cty as is Fernandina Bch.

Offline ncsiacfan

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Re: This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 12:32:26 AM »
Thank you all for this information. I think that it was American Beach. Even my taciturn father was overwhelmed.

 

 

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