Howard Thurman Home - courtesy of City of Daytona Beach

The Black Heritage Trail in Daytona Beach

Featured image: Howard Thurman Home – courtesy of City of Daytona Beach

We’re here in February and Black History Month! Since moving to Daytona Beach, I’ve been learning more about the rich history here. In February 2021, when a lot of the world was still shut down due to the pandemic, my family accepted a community leader’s challenge to visit and take a picture at all of the landmarks on the Black Heritage Trail. You can see our pictures and the map put out by the city of Daytona Beach on my website, but in the meantime, I want to share some of the most memorable spots to my family. 

Both Bethune-Cookman University and Mary McLeod Bethune’s home and gravesite are marked on the map. All of Florida and the nation learned more about Dr. Bethune’s legacy this past year as she was added to the statuary hall in Washington D.C. When we started our tour in ‘21, I’m sorry to say that I did not know much about her but was honored to have a current student at the time show us around the campus and outside of her home. I have yet to take a tour of the inside, which can be done with advance planning. I’ve since been in awe of all of Dr. Bethune’s accomplishments. When there was not a school to teach young, African American girls, she started one! No hospital to care for residents in the historically Black neighborhood? She started that, too! Dr. Bethune cared well for the whole person: body, mind and soul. 

The Howard Thurman house is another special stop on the Black Heritage Trail. Thurman was a theologian and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His writings, including, “Jesus and the Disinherited,” have been used by influential leaders in the church and culture for decades. I read this book last year and stopped by the house again as he mentioned his home and neighborhood in Daytona Beach several times. 

The last stop I want to highlight is the Samuel Butts Archeological Park. As this park is near my kids’ school, we often walk or fish it on free afternoons. It’s beautiful and has signage along the pathways to tell you more about the discoveries of Native American civilizations in Daytona Beach. A relaxing nature walk turns into a historical journey!

The stops on the Daytona Beach Black Heritage Trail are obviously important to our local history, but many are also key to our nation’s story. My challenge to all is to visit the sites at least once to deepen your knowledge, empathy and love for the Midtown neighborhood of Daytona!

CASSIE GONYER lives in Daytona Beach with her husband, three daughters, two housemates, and a “doug” (dachshund-pug mix dog). She loves exploring and promoting the food, shops and events that Daytona has to offer. You can follow her local adventures on Instagram at @CassGoAroundDaytona

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