Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Photo May Unlock Secrets History of Beaches' Black Residents Could Start with Class ID

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Photo May Unlock Secrets History of Beaches' Black Residents Could Start with Class ID

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- Dwight Wilson has looked at the

photograph of the teacher and her students countless times. The

woman, who appears to be in her 20s, stands in a field with more

than 30 students, who seem to range in age from 5 or 6 years old

to their teens.

As Wilson stared at the photo recently, he talked about where

the group lived and went to school, and what daily life was

probably like for them.

But as Wilson had the conversation he's had many times since he

discovered the photograph years ago, he said that most of it was

speculation because the one thing he doesn't know is the

identity of any of the people in the picture. For Wilson, that's

the source of considerable frustration.

Wilson, the Beaches Area Historical Society's archivist, has

tried to find anyone who might know the names of the teacher and

her students from the Mayport school for blacks, but to no

avail. Wilson isn't even sure what the school's official name

was. He knows little about it except that his own grandfather

was the principal.

Wilson's search for information about the school and the names

of the people in the photo closely mirrors his quest for

African-American history at the Beaches.

"We lack, really, any black history," Wilson said.

The dearth of information about African-American history isn't

for a lack of effort. Wilson has asked black residents of the

community for help, but said he has received little input.

Wilson estimated that the archives, which houses more than

3,000 indexed pictures, has less than a dozen photos of

African-Americans. Wilson is constantly searching for more

information about See HISTORY, Page x Continued from Page 1

African-Americans at the beach.

The search may be a difficult one, according to Granville Reed,

the only AfricanAmerican on the society's board of directors and

the pastor at St. Andrew AME Church.

"In many black communities, there's not a lot of written

history," Reed said. "There may be written stuff about people at

the Beaches, but nobody has gone out to find it."

But, Reed gave the society credit for their efforts.

"One thing about the Beaches Area Historical Society is they

are trying to get the history of the black community," Reed

said.

The historical society isn't the only entity trying to gather

information about African-American history at the beaches.

Marjorie Holloway, who was born and raised in Jacksonville

Beach's black community, said she has also tried asking people

for pictures, but without success.

"I have asked ones who I thought would have pictures, and no

one has any," she said.

Holloway recalled her family taking pictures, but isn't sure

what happened to them. …

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