The A. L. Lewis Historical Society and the American Beach Museum celebrated their 5th Anniversary this past weekend with an all-star lineup.
The weekend kicked off with a “High Tea in The Spirit,” featuring an intimate conversation with First Coast native and college administrator, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, direct descendant of the Kingsley Plantation and daughter of American Beach founder A.L. Lewis. During the Tea, Cole was interviewed by former longtime Essence Magazine icon Susan Taylor at the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton. On Saturday, festivities continued with the “Quest For Justice,” with the Honorable Henry Lee Adams in a historical conversation with Judge Brian Davis at the American Beach Museum and Community Center. Hundreds of African American scholars, pastors, historians and beach residents witnessed the educational address.
The event was previously scheduled in September when it abruptly had to be rescheduled due to the impending hurricane. At that time, actor Danny Glover was also on the program agenda headlining a gala.
American Beach was founded in 1935 by Florida’s first black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, and his Afro-American Life Insurance Company. The plan was for his employees to have a place to vacation and own homes for their families by the shore. It was a place where African Americans could enjoy “recreation and relaxation without humiliation.” The beach included hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs as well as homes and other businesses.
Today American Beach remains smaller, less industrious, and a lot less black owned, however the mission and purpose remains the same. The Historical Society supports its mission and purpose established by its namesake nearly 84 years ago. Proceeds from the event benefited the Society and the museum in the preservation of its legacy.
Shown above (L-R) is Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole and Susan Taylor and event organizer Carol Alexander