A History of Racial & Ethnic (In)Equity in West Palm Beach
“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” Speech given at the National Cathedral, March 31, 1968.
In this section of the site, we’ll be sharing a history of racial and ethnic inequity in West Palm Beach — as well as documentation of local residents’ longtime, ongoing struggles to “bend the arc towards justice.” This section will constantly be updated. Only when we learn about history can we start to understand the root causes of the racial and ethnic disparities we see today.
If you would like to contribute related historical materials for this section, please contact us. We welcome digitized historical photos, copies of clippings and personal testimonials that either:
- Highlight the practices and policies that have helped to maintain racial and ethnic inequality in West Palm Beach
- Showcase the efforts of West Palm Beach residents to build a more just, equitable and inclusive city.
We are rolling out this historical content by starting with early Florida, and then adding posts that move chronologically into the present and focus on West Palm Beach. We also want to acknowledge the “griots” (memory keepers) of West Palm Beach, who for years have endeavored to preserve and share an under-recognized history of the city, including the contributions and struggles of African Americans and others often written out of official narratives or described in limited or stereotypical ways. Please view this video, which celebrates the contributions of West Palm Beach resident Edith Bush.
The period of Reconstruction, which begins in 1865 after the ending of the Civil War, is a post-war moment when the United States – both the general population and its elected officials – works to establish a government and laws that pay heed to the ending of...
Black Settlement of Southeastern Florida In the late 19th century, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler brings the Florida East Coast Railway from West Palm Beach to Miami. African Americans laborers help construct the railroad tracks. Palm Beach County is...
1920s: Building a Community of Civil Rights LeadersIn the first half of the 20th century, most affluent African Americans of West Palm Beach live in the Freshwater District, in houses built by local African American contractors and designed by Hazel Augustus, the...