February is Black History Month, a commemorative tradition the U.S. began recognizing in 1976. That’s when President Gerald Ford officially designated the month as an opportunity for the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
While we’re supportive of Black History Month, we’re also big proponents of celebrating Black history, Black culture, and Black businesses, organizations, and people year-round. And not just celebrate, but advocate for, too.
And speaking of education: Do you know the name of Orlando’s first Black community? It was Jonestown, a 12-block neighborhood dating back to 1880 named after Sam and Penny Jones that’s situated near Fern Creek and Greenwood Cemetery.
The community had one school, one store, and at least two churches (Mount Olive CME Church still stands today!) until its demise in 1939 when a fire destroyed one home and wound up consuming others. White people complained about the conditions of the neighborhood and the Jonestown residents were subsequently relocated to Griffin Park in Parramore.
Shoutout to News 6 for the reminder of Jonestown history. But there’s a lot more where that came from.
Wanna know more about the Joneses and Jonestown? You should plan a visit to the Orange County Regional History Center.
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