REMEMBERING THE PAST - African-Americans Reflect on Their Contributions
By David Volz / February 1, 2016
February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the African-American community.
Many African-Americans have made substantial contributions to the local community. Tameka King earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership and is an assistant principal at Coral Springs High School. She believes it is important to celebrate the many cultures that are represented at her school.
"At Coral Springs High we make it a priority to celebrate all cultures throughout the year, highlighting certain ethnicities during designated times of the year such as Black History Month in February. During February we highlight people of color who have made significant contributions to our world during our daily video announcements," said King.
The bulletin boards surrounding the Media Center at the high school are decorated to showcase the outstanding contributions. The school holds a Multi-Cultural Show that attracts over 700 visitors annually. In the Multi- Cultural Show students illustrate their cultural ethnicities through dance.
"It is important to allow students to celebrate their cultures not just in the sense of trying to understand what cultures they bring with them, but also the hidden values that make their worlds feel so rich regardless of their situations or circumstances. While trying to understand the culture of people of color, we also take time to understand the historical context of the expression for people of color," said King.
King loves helping students succeed. "All of our children bring with them such a rich culture, regardless of their financial or cultural backgrounds, so we try to showcase that in various ways," she said.
A graduate of Coral Springs High herself, King earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at Florida State University and her Ph.D. at Florida Atlantic University. She believes coming from a strong family that valued education and work helped her succeed.
There are many stories of success in the local African-American community. Years ago, agriculture was the primary industry in Broward County. Pompano, which later became Pompano Beach, was a farming community when it was founded in 1908. Hazel Armbrister, a member of the Pompano Beach Historical Society and the president of the Rock Road Restoration Group Inc., has studied the history of the area and seen it develop.
"Years ago, people came from north Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, and the Bahamas to work on the farms. The land was fertile and word got out people could get work here. Whole families would come and work on the farms," said Armbrister.
Eventually a vibrant African-American community developed in eastern Broward County. Businesses, churches, civic organizations, and schools were established. Segregation existed and there were fewer educational opportunities available for African-Americans as many had to spend part of the school year harvesting crops. But eventually this changed. Blanche Ely High School was named after a respected educator in the area.
Some prominent African-American leaders include E. Pat Larkins, who served for many years as Pompano Beach mayor and commissioner. Shortly after he died, a community center was named after him.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored in Coral Springs with a new monument, the first of its kind in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. The monument, located in front of the Northwest Regional Library, was produced by an artist known as Dari. She shares her feelings on civil rights through sculpture and painting. The Lac Du Bonnet Pillar, coral colored granite, stands for equality, freedom of speech, unity, and democracy. The base is made of Mesabi Black Granite. The Raven Black monument stands for the Rainbow Coalition and King's dignity, teaching, and strength.
Dr. Mark Gendal, chair of the Coral Springs Martin Luther King Monument Committee, is pleased. He believes the statue, which was dedicated in January, represents a commitment by the City to tolerance.
"This monument is a dedication by our entire community that we, according to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream, will make every effort to see each other not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our characters."
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