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South Florida residents young and old now have a new state park to take in beach activities. The Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Hollywood, Fla. was officially renamed earlier this year. This weekend, an epic celebration takes place to honor the local civil rights leaders behind its name.

Dr. Von Delaney Mizell was the second Black physician in Fort Lauderdale, and was instrumental in the establishment of Provident Hospital in Chicago. Mizell was also a champion of justice in Broward County staging sit-ins and protests while also successfully suing the county’s medical association for admittance. Mizell also established South Florida’s first NAACP chapter.

Mrs. Eula Johnson, a widowed mother of three and a businesswoman, was also an activist in the region. At one point, she served as her local NAACP chapter’s president and joined Mizell in a number of civil rights efforts. Together they staged wade-ins to help bring attention to the segregation and division among Black and white beachgoers.

Late city attorney John C. Lloyd, who the beach was initially named after, purchased several parcels of land to form what would become the “colored beach” section. Dania Beach, already a difficult portion of the beach to get to, became increasingly challenging to visit due to poor road maintenance. But Mizell and Johnson continued their fight to attract Black families and anyone else who wished to swim and play at the beach. It is their combined effort that helped the beach eventually become a state park.

The Lloyd family and several other residents were critical of the name change. Some believe that Lloyd purchased the land to protect it from developers and a few citizens told local publications that they do not intend to honor the beach’s new name.

Despite the pushback from the Lloyd family and their supporters, the name change went into effect on July 1.

Photo: Lauren Tjaden for VisitFlorida.com

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