What is Juneteenth? A celebration of the day when African American slaves were told they were FREE! President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862, and it took effect on January 1, 1863. Slavery formally ended with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on January 31, 1865. But it wasn’t until later that year, in June 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas to tell the slaves they were free.
Although not widely known, Juneteenth or June 19 is recognized by 47 states including Florida, but the Board of County Commissioners aims to take it one step further and change the administrative code to make Juneteenth a day of observance, celebration and education to honor all freedom for all Americans.
In honor of Juneteenth, Broward County Library is bringing public recognition to the County's African-American community through a series of programs. Find Juneteenth Celebrations here.
Did you know? Broward is home to the African American Research Library and Cultural Center which is not just any library but a state-of-the-art facility for research, life-long learning, community gatherings, cultural events and technology training. Learn more here.
Broward County Celebrates Black History Month
Throughout the month of February, Broward County agencies will celebrate the rich
history and contributions of African-Americans.
Broward County Parks
Broward County Parks is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of local black leaders and advocates. Learn more about some of the parks through the leaders they were named after:
Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park
Reverend Samuel Delevoe was an army veteran and one of Fort Lauderdale's first Black police officers. After his tenure on the police force, he went on to become a political activist and community leader who was dedicated to improving relations between Black residents and the police. He also founded the Minority Builders Coalition of Broward and the Black Coalition of Broward County, where he advocated for quality housing, jobs and education opportunities for all people. He died in 1977 by a gunshot wound, and the park was renamed in his honor in 1979.
Lafayette Hart Park
Lafayette Hart was one of the founding members of the Washington Park Civic Association, which lobbied to have a recreational space in the Washington Park neighborhood. Hart and others believed the park would increase the well-being of people in the area and instill a stronger sense of community. Hart passed away in 1989 and the community asked for the park to be renamed from Washington Park to Lafayette Hart Park in his honor.
Dillard Green Space
This green space is named after James H. Dillard, a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans and an advocate for education, especially for Black people. Although Dillard was a white man and the son of Virginia slave owners, several prominent Black educational institutions are named after him, including Dillard University, a Black liberal arts college in New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale's Dillard High School. The story behind the naming of the school is tied to prominent Black educators Joseph and Blanche Ely. Dr. Joseph A. Ely was the principal of the first school for Black students in Broward County in 1924. He and his wife, Blanche Ely, were educational pioneers within Broward County, with Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach being named after her. In 1930, Joseph A. Ely petitioned to have the school where he was principal renamed after James H. Dillard, a staunch advocate for Black education.
Phillip Chisom Jr. was the owner and operator of Phillip Barbecue Stand. He passed away in 1979. Lucian Lewis Jr., was the owner of Ponderosa Soul Food and Grocery in Fort Lauderdale. He passed away in 1986. Lewis also played a big role in installing drainage pipes and opening roadways around the Franklin Park neighborhood when he served as the president of the local homeowners association. His wife, Jewel Lewis, is very active in the community and was known for hosting Thanksgiving dinners for the entire community (2003-2010).