South Florida park named after civil rights leaders

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday signed a bill that will rename a state park in Broward County to honor civil rights activists who led efforts to integrate beaches.

160408_metro02The bill (SB 288), sponsored by Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, will rename the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park as the “Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park.”

Dr. Von Mizell, the founding president of the Broward NAACP, petitioned for the creation of a beach for Black residents in 1946 and continued pursuing the issue for years, according to information released Wednesday by the Senate Minority Office.

The county ultimately bought a site but didn’t build an access road or other facilities. That led in 1961 to Johnson, who was then the president of the local NAACP, leading “wade-ins” at White-only Fort Lauderdale beaches, according to House and Senate bill analyses.

The city sought an injunction to end the wade-ins, but a court refused, effectively ending segregation of beaches in the county, the analyses said. The state bought the park from the county in 1973 and named it after Lloyd, who served as county attorney from 1945 to 1975. The park includes 310 acres and goes from Port Everglades Inlet to Dania Beach.

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