A must-see collection of African-American cultural and historical sites in the Daytona Beach area.
Historical Sites & Museums
African-American Museum of the Arts
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Home & Gravesite
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center
Black Heritage Museum
Black Heritage Trail
Freemanville Historic Site
Howard Thurman Home
Jackie Robinson Ballpark
Museum of Arts & Sciences
African-Americans were among the Daytona Beach area’s earliest settlers. A large colony of freedmen (free slaves) was established in 1866 by Esther Hill and John Milton Hawks in an area just south of Daytona Beach. That area is now known as the towns of Ponce Inlet and Port Orange. Hawks and his wife, both physicians, were staunch abolitionists who spent the Civil War years caring for Black Union soldiers. It was primarily these soldiers and their families, numbering as many as 1,500, who settled in this area following the Civil War. Among the 26 individuals who voted to incorporate Daytona in 1876 were two Black men, Thaddeus Goodin and John Tolliver. Tolliver played an important role in the town’s early years, building much of the original Ridgewood Avenue (U.S. Highway 1). Tolliver’s father, Henry, had been one of the ex-Union soldiers who came to Florida with Hawks. His prosperous homestead, located in the northeast corner of Port Orange, was the center of a Black hamlet that became known as Freemanville. Originally populated by freedmen from the nearby Hawks’ colony, Freemanville grew rapidly during the 1800s as African-American workers poured into the area to work on the East Coast Railroad.
Influential African-American leaders such as Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, and Jackie Robinson have also left their legacies for you to discover in Daytona Beach. Their names, as well as their accomplishments, remain an important part of the area’s proud heritage.
Daytona Beach notables
Born in Daytona Beach in 1926, Yvonne Scarlett-Golden was only the second woman to serve as mayor, and the first African-American elected to the city’s highest office. A retired educator, Scarlett-Golden was elected mayor in 2003 after serving several years on the city commission. She died in 2006 at age 80 before she could complete her term. A cultural center with gallery and exhibit space was named in her honor, the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural and Educational Center.
James Huger, Sr.
James Huger, Sr. earned his high school diploma and associate’s degree from Bethune-Cookman University when the school’s founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, was still at the helm. He later launched his professional career at the institution and in the early 1950s, was personally asked by Dr. Bethune to manage one of the very first United Negro College Fund campaigns for B-CU in Washington, D.C. Huger served on the Daytona Beach City Commission for several years and was the first African-American elected to Volusia County Council. A former general secretary for Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., Huger was bestowed the fraternity’s highest honor in 2009. Along with his fraternity brothers, Huger traveled to nearby St. Augustine, Florida to support Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. An article commemorating this significant event can be viewed at Bethune-Cookman University. Huger is a longtime community activist and continued to be civically involved. He celebrated his 100th birthday January 3, 2015.
Daytona Beach native and NBA superstar Vince Carter attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. Named a McDonalds All-American while in high school, Carter went on to star for three years at the University of North Carolina before being selected as the number five pick by the Toronto Raptors in the 1998 NBA Draft.
The NBA Rookie of the Year his first season, he shot to fame as the winner of the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest the following season. Carter and his mother opened Vince Carter’s, a stunning, 10,700 square-foot restaurant and sports entertainment venue in Daytona Beach in 2010.
Actor Denzel Washington attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach during his junior year.
Did you know?
Ormond Beach, located at the northern end of the Daytona Beach area, also saw settlement by Blacks after the Civil War. These settlers arrived in Ormond Beach between the 1890s and 1900 from the African country of Liberia – a country founded and colonized from 1821-22 by freed American slaves. The slaves founded and colonized the country with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society on the premise that the former slaves would have greater freedom and equality there. The community in Ormond Beach where the Liberians settled at the turn of the century was known locally as Liberia. A nearby settlement of African-Americans was known as Sudan.