Palm Beach Post 10-26-1980 Black History page 1

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Palm Beach Post 10-26-1980 Black History page 1 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1980 SECTION W The Post i ;...
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1980 SECTION W The Post i ; i IT 1 1 ''V A . . " Handmade gravestone in Evergreen Cemetery The Final Injustice y Nut, V s. .frv :H-rr?:.&. :H-rr?:.&. :H-rr?:.&. .v' -s -s -Jif -Jif - & ftTKa" t Li - 1L ... - " - - -- -- -. -. i, - - - - - ' - ' - " 1 nr i i 1 1 r 1 1. 1 a . ! i ...1 Tom Wilkins' whole family is buried at Evergreen including his niece, who was reburied four years ago after vandals broke into her crypt By Shari Spires Pol Staff Wriur Some people have called Evergreen Cemetery an eyesore. But the truth is, you cannot see this forgotten field in the heart of West Palm Beach without making a special point of finding finding it. There's only one road leading in and it's just a small shell path tucked away at the rear of a lumber yard off Rosemary Avenue. The unmarked unmarked entrance opens to about 9 acres of tombstones and above-the-ground above-the-ground above-the-ground above-the-ground above-the-ground burial vaults, completely surrounded surrounded by development. The northern edge abuts the tree-shaded tree-shaded tree-shaded backyards of a neighborhood. The east side is flanked by a railroad track and a row of businesses beyond. On the west, the hillside drops off to a block of businesses built at the base. So unless you are a visitor here, Evergreen will not be an eyesore to you. Few white people come here. Why should they? Evergreen, Evergreen, founded by an association of black men in 1916, is a relic of segregation. From 1916 until 1966, when the city-owned city-owned city-owned Woodlawn was integrated, it was the only place blacks could bury their dead. History does not record the majority of people who rest beneath Evergreen's parched weeds and tangled vines. They were people of ways, not means, and though the fruit of their labor lives on, their names are forgotten. We think of Henry Flagler when we see pictures of the Royal Poinciana not Dimmie A. Wilkins, whose strong black hands pounded the nails in the world's largest frame building. The names of white visitors are recorded for posterity posterity on the old Palm Beach photographs. Anonymous is the man whose strong black legs ped al the Afromo-bile Afromo-bile Afromo-bile in which they ride. That's the way it usually is in history. But as Alice Moore, a retired West Palm Beach schoolteacher, pointed out, there are others buried there who have a rightful place in history West Palm Beach's history and they too are forgotten beneath the weeds. Buried there is Dr. T. Leroy Jefferson, the city's first black doctor; J.W. Mickens, the first principal principal of Industrial High School, the city's segregated school, and Dr. Tom Sawyer, Dade County's first black physician and father of the late Gwen Cherry, the first black woman to be elected to the Florida House of Representatives. Recently, Miss Moore agreed to point out the graves of some of these pioneers and community leaders. leaders. She knew many of them as a child growing up in the home of Haley and Alice Mickens, a couple whose generosity sent 10 needy black children, including Miss Moore, to college many years ago. Mickens owned 10 of the quaint little Afromobiles, as the tourists called them. They were never called that by the black community. Even today they refer to them as wheelchairs. To the Mickens home came all the important people of Miss Moore's race. Ralph Bunche slept there and so did Mary Bethune, adviser to four different presidents. A. Philip Randolph stayed, as did Howard Thruman. "We opened our home to them," Mrs. Mickens said, "because in those days we couldn't stay in any of the hotels. People used to call us up from all over the country and ask for people to stay. We never turned them down and we never took a cent for it." Mickens bought 'the property on which his widow Turn to EVERGREEN, C4 lJ S Lj ;sj iVfl Ml Jhj Alice AAoore (above) remembers the people of Palm Beach County's past who are burled at Evergreen Evergreen Cemetery, now overgrown with weeds and scarred by the work of vandals (right). I J $tM PMW by SmpImh Criwlt V -V -V 7y f fir r - f A; l: t'y Mi tt

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  1. The Palm Beach Post,
  2. 26 Oct 1980, Sun,
  3. Page 65

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  • Palm Beach Post 10-26-1980 Black History page 1

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