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Celebrating Black History Month

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

February 23, 2024

(Left to Right) Oreste Blake (O.B.) Johnson was a visionary in the Northwest Quadrant whose vision and dedication impacted residents throughout the City and Broward County. • On June 5th, 2001, Commissioners voted unanimously to designate the gymnasium at O.B. Johnson Park as the Nelson "Butch" Brown Activity Center. • Mary Washington started one of the first city-run social services programs in Broward County. Many cities later followed her example. • Austin Hepburn, Jr., was a Hallandale Beach Police Officer who lost his life in the line of duty on July 27, 1973, at age 26. As a tribute the City honored him by naming the Social Services Center, the Austin Hepburn Center.

Recognizing The State Championship Lady Chargers After All These Years!

Hallandale Beach’s rich history goes back well over 95 years before it was even incorporated. Our city was a farming town with mostly Tomatoes, Squash, and other Vegetables. We had a train stop on the Flagler Railroad right at the corner of Hallandale Beach Boulevard and 1st Avenue. There was a Post Office and Store. Just north on 1st Avenue was our Fire Station which is now Val’s Glass and now a second-generation shop.

At that time just west of the railroad lay an open land area that was to become one of the very first Black Enclaves, Carver Ranches. Many Bahamians and Jamaicans and other Islanders made their way to South Florida and settled in Miami. Rents were high and people could not afford to own nor were able to buy. That changed and Carvers Ranches was the first place many could buy homes. In 1940 Carver Ranches was fully Segregated and was one of the few places men and women of color could feel safe with a place to call their own.

I often try to imagine what it was like back then. This area was not incorporated at the time like Hollywood, Miramar, or Hallandale Beach. I have heard so many stories from friends and families about growing up in the area. Families were close knit and like back in the old days everyone had each other’s backs. Friends and residents have shared some great stories about those times but have also shared the dark history of Segregation.

It was not until 2005 that the 300 acres were divided and became West Park and Pembroke Park. But it was shortly before that in the 1970’s that the South was still Segregated. I have heard many times from friends that once it turned dark you needed to be back home west of the tracks. This was not because you had to do your homework, it was because parents and children were in fear of being attacked simply for being Black.

These stories, while painful, are of such importance. We cannot allow them to be forgotten. It is disgraceful that our Legislators are continuing to whitewash the history of the South. It is akin to saying the Holocaust never happened or that the Japanese were never encamped by the United States. These are extremely important to remember and know so when we fight for preservation of our Civil Rights and particularly schools. We need to understand that these places are more than homes or buildings.

One such story I just learned of during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration was about Hallandale High's Women’s Basketball Team. HHS was built in the seventies. One could speculate that it was built so children would not have to be bused to other White schools or it simply was needed due to the amount of children now in the area. I would like to think the latter. Hallandale High is now one of schools considered for closing due to under i=enrollment.. I will write more about that in a future article.

What I want to share is the fact Hallandale High has generated some great athletes. Not all were Football stars, there were Track and Field and Basketball. Not all were young men. I found out the very first Championship win for HHS was won by their Women’s Basketball Team. Their Championship Banner is still hung in the gym.

During MLK, a friend approached me with great passion and anger that the team was never given their proper recognition. She was one of the original players. They did not even receive a Championship Ring. I committed to her that moment I would correct this wrong.

Before that time, women were actually playing Half-Court Ball. The year they went on to win the championships was when the first-year Women's Full-Court started. The team did not only succeed as the first Full-Court Team they became the first Boward and then State Champions and the very first championship for the new Hallandale High School.

I had the great opportunity to recognize them at our Commission Meeting with a Proclamation. I am also working with our Hallandale High School to have them recognized at the school as they should have been long ago.

Congratulations to Hallandale Beach’s very own Lady Chargers, Broward County Champion Women’s Basketball Team for two years 1974-75 and 1975-76 and State Champions 1975-76. Not only were they a fighting force that had to share and practice with the boys team at McNicol and outside at Dixie Park. One of their members even sewed bras for the girls so they could play comfortably. They were the gold standard for Women’s Basketball with 65-67 games won!

Janis Drummond, Rosalyn Stubbins, Darlene Brown, Mattie Crawford, Kim Walmley, Dina Cooper, Qunea Gordon, Diane McCay, Karen McCrae, Patricia Rivers, Kim Sparks, Debra Shannon and Patricia White.
These women are and should remain an inspiration to all young ladies that have the drive to excel not simply at Academics but Sports.

As always feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City better! I can be reached at: Or: Or Facebook Mayor Joy Cooper. You can always call my Office Number at: (954) 457-1318. Or Call/Text me at: (954) 632-5700 Working For You! Always Have! Always Will!

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