African American Heritage
and History
in Polk County
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On the previous pages we mentioned the Moorehead Community of Lakeland, This was not the only African-American community in Lakeland, Other early leaders included Amos Stewart, supervisor of the first school in the community and Nettie Adderly, a long-time teacher and school administrator.
  The Moorehead community was only the first  close knit black comunity to settle the area, the other was known locally as the Black Bottom, it had arisen in the northwestern part of the city bound by, Dakota Ave.( now Martin Luther King Boulevard ) , Florida Ave. Fifth Street and Pear Street. Paul A.Diggs, after whom part of the area is now named and educator William A. Rochelle, after whom the Rochelle High School ( Now Rochelle School of the Arts ) was named, were among the leaders of this community.
  Memories of children playing and growing up and the churches were full on Sundays and there are memories of poverty and opportunities denied that were all a part of everyday life for many.
   Urban renewal, the Civil Rights Movement and school intergration changed the close knit character of the neighborhoods. The Moorehead Community was razed and the residents scattered in the early 1970's. A new generation of leaders in the 1960's - 1970's arose to meet the new challenges and build from the work of their former leaders, David Simpson, Amos Stewart, Nettie Addelry, Paul Diggs and William Rochelle.
   Dr.John S. Jackson became Lakeland's first black Mayor in 1972,  before that he had been the first black elected to the Lakeland City Commission in 1968.
   Larry R. Jackson came to Lakeland in 1974 as the city's first black attorney and devoted the whole of his life tirelessly working to better the lot of the indigent, minorities, and children.
   Larry R. Jackson led the federal courts fight to achieve racial balance in Polk County Schools. He lobbied the City Commission constantly to build a branch library in the northwest part of the city.
   The Larry R. Jackson branch library opened its doors in 1995.
   Carrie Oldham became the first African-American woman to serve on the city Commission in 1977, She became Mayor in 1980.
   Others who have carried on the struggle for equality include:
Lawyer  --------------------------Kenneth Glover
Teacher & Administrator----Vivian Postell
Community Activist------------Madalynne Brooks &
                                                 Doris Moore/Bailey.
   A small exibit of photo's at the Lakeland Library honors the significant role African-Americans played in the history and development of Lakeland.
  < photo's can be view on-line > Click Here

read Moorehead page

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page created by: Peggy