Register to Win

Register to win a stay in Daytona Beach at the Hard Rock Hotel!

Read More


African American Heritage in Daytona Beach

African Americans were among the Daytona Beach area’s earliest settlers. Today, visitors to Daytona Beach can follow the Share The Heritage Trail to explore museums and historical and cultural sites and learn about the legacies of influential Black leaders linked to Daytona Beach, including Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Jackie Robinson.

Daytona Beach Area



The Daytona Beach Black Heritage Trail illustrates the many aspects of the city's black heritage. The Trail hosts 18 locations including Daisy Stocking Park, Samuel Butts Archaeological Park, Mount Bethel Baptist Institutional Church and the former home of Howard Thurman.

Founded on October 3, 1904, by Mary McLeod Bethune. In 1923 the school merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida (founded in 1872) and became co-ed while it also gained the prestigious United Methodist Church affiliation. Although the merger of Bethune’s school and Cookman Institute began in 1923, it was not finalized until 1925 when both schools collaborated to become the Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institute. In 1931, the College became accredited by the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States, as a Junior College with class B status, and on April 27, 1931, the school’s name was officially changed to Bethune-Cookman College to reflect the leadership of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.



A state historic marker was unveiled in February 2003 recognizing the Freemanville Historical community settled by freed slaves after the Civil War in 1867. Part of the Black Heritage Trail, on the second Tuesday in February each year, the City of Port Orange celebrates Freemanville Day with historic reenactments.



Relive history in this minor league baseball park where ground-breaking African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson played in the first integrated Major League Baseball spring training game in 1946. Jackie Robinson Ballpark features a statue of Robinson, historical markers and a museum, and is home to the Daytona Tortugas, a Cincinnati Reds-affiliated minor league team. Group tours are available by appointment.

The Historic Howard Thurman Home is the childhood home of one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. A native son of Daytona Beach, Dr. Howard Thurman went on to become an important author and religious thinker and one of the most influential early voices shaping the nonviolent philosophy of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in America. Thurman was the first Dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University and a co-founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, the first racially integrated church in the United States. In 1953, he became the first Black Dean of Chapel at a majority-white college or university when he accepted the position of Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University. Dr. Thurman served in this position until 1965. His most famous book, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949) profoundly influenced a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a host of young activists and leaders in the Civil Rights movement.


Historic marker for Kelly Field, which once hosted baseball, softball, kickball, football and other outdoor activities and played a role in the integration of professional baseball. Jackie Robinson and fellow Negro League veteran Johnny Wright practiced at Kelly Field with the Montreal Royals during spring training in 1946. That same year, Robinson and his Montreal club faced the parent Dodgers in an exhibition game at City Island Park in Daytona Beach (now Jackie Robinson Ballpark).



The Mary McLeod Bethune Home & Gravesite is on the National Historic Landmark and is the former home of civil rights leader, educator and founder of Bethune-Cookman University, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Filled with fascinating artifacts and photos of famous visitors and U.S. presidents, the facility, which is situated on the scenic grounds of Bethune-Cookman University, offers guided tours.


In 1885 a group of Christians, under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Brook Hankerson, recognized the need for African Americans to have a place to worship in the community. On June 22 Mount Bethel was constructed on the corner of Fremont Avenue and Church Street (now Marion Street). The current Mount Bethel was erected in 1921.

The Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS), offers a state-of-the-art planetarium, vast permanent collections, restored railroad cars, decorative arts, Cuban art, African art, and the only hands-on science center between Jacksonville and Orlando - the Charles and Linda Williams Children's Museum. Located on a 90-acre Florida nature preserve, the Tuscawilla Preserve, the facility hosts over 30,000 objects including the Dow Gallery of American Art, the Schulte Gallery of Chinese Art, the Bouchelle Collection and the Gallery of Decorative Arts, the Cuban Foundation Museum, showcasing one of the most significant collections of Cuban paintings in the United States; the Prehistory of Florida Gallery featuring Florida's Giant Ground Sloth skeleton and the Root Family Museum displaying restored railroad cars, antique automobiles and the largest collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia in Florida. The Helene B. Roberson Visible Storage Building exhibits thousands of objects from many donors.

The Lucas Center is home to the Harold V. Lucas Jr. Foundation, the Harold V. Lucas Sr. Florida Historical Marker and the Lucas Historical Memorabilia Collection. Harold V. Lucas Sr. was an educator and entrepreneur. Lucas Sr. served in administrative and faculty capacities at Bethune-Cookman University for nearly 40 years. He was the first male teacher and he founded the school's business department. In addition to his work at Bethune-Cookman University, Lucas Sr. operated businesses and private classes from his home. The Lucas Center is open to visitors Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.



Named after Daytona Beach's first African-American mayor the Yvonne Scarlet-Golden Cultural & Educational Center features an array of programs and activities, which are open to the public. Included in the complex are classrooms, drawing and painting rooms, a multi-media laboratory, a photography lab with a darkroom, a library, an exhibition gallery, and administrative offices. Outside the main building is an open-air amphitheater/courtyard and a 6,814-square-foot gymnasium.

West Volusia Area


Enjoy African art from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Kenya in this permanent gallery featuring six rotating visual arts exhibits and amphitheater events throughout the year. Founded in 1994, the African American Museum of the Arts is a unique and vital resource in this part of Florida. It is the only museum in the area devoted primarily to African American cultures and art. The museum houses a revolving gallery of both established and emerging artists and is also home to a permanent collection of more than 150 artifacts, including sculptures and masks from countries of Africa.



Located directly across the street from the African American Museum of the Arts. Noble "Thin Man" Watts is best known as one of the pre-eminent R&B tenor sax players of the 1950s. Cultural events, including an annual jazz festival honoring Watts, are held here.


Murals depicting early 20th-century African-American life along a rail spur that ran on the elevation behind the painted walls. The "people of color" lived in the Red City and Little Africa neighborhoods and worked for the local lumber mill or surrounding orange groves. The settlement was named Red City because the mill owner painted all the homes red, the cheapest paint color.


Founded in 1878, church members met under a brush arbor until the existing structure was finished in 1907. Bethel AME Church was designed by John A. Lankford, the nation's first practicing African-American architect. The Gothic Revival-style building was constructed of hand-formed blocks of concrete mixed with Florida sand and molded onsite. Bricks were then placed by male congregants whose initials can still be found etched along the base.




Built in 1922, the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum features a restored operating room and apothecary, along with the Gallery of Ice and Electricity, Gallery of Veterans Memorabilia, Gallery of Black Heritage, Elephant Fantasyland, and a Veterans Memorial Wall.




Greater Union First Baptist Church is an old wooden church that was organized in 1880 and was once associated with the historic, all-Black Yemassee Settlement. At its inception, it was the only Christian organization in DeLand for Black Americans.




The Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church was started around 1900, the present church was built around 1910.

New Smyrna Beach Area

Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park is located 3.5 miles south of New Smyrna Beach and 1 mile north of the Apollo Beach entrance to Canaveral National Seashore Park. This beachfront, handicapped-accessible county park has restrooms, large picnic pavilions, showers and nearly 800’ of direct beachfront sidewalk. The riverside park area is located a short distance across S. Atlantic Avenue and has tennis, pickle ball, basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, fishing pier and restrooms. The river area around the park is an excellent location for viewing manatees, dolphins and pelicans. Bethune Beach stands out in the area's history as well as it was the only beach in the first half of the twentieth century that African Americans were permitted to use. It is named after Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and founder of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.



Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum is a historical museum that houses a collection of memorabilia and artifacts dating back to the early 1920s. It offers a glimpse of African-American history centered around, but not restricted to, the heritage of African Americans before and including that period. Call for specific hours.