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Lee County Black History Society to kick off capital campaign

By Staff | Aug 26, 2021

The Lee County Black History Society is organizing a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a Black Cultural Center at Clemente Park in Dunbar.

Fort Myers City Councilmember Teresa Watkins Brown will kick off the funding of the capital campaign by donating $25,000 Monday, Aug. 30, at 10 a.m., in front of the Williams Academy Black History Museum at Clemente Park, 1936 Henderson Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33916

As part of the City of Fort Myers’ comprehensive plan for Clemente Park, residents have expressed their desire for the construction of a Black Cultural Center in the expansive urban green space available.

The first floor of the Cultural Center would include an art gallery with large glass windows that would showcase the gallery to both pedestrians and vehicle traffic.

The second floor is a community space for events and performances and the third floors will include music studios where local residents can come in and produce music or podcasts or photography.

The Lee County Black History Society, Inc., a 501C(3) organization, was founded in 1994 by Janice Cass. Her objectives for establishing the LCBHS Inc. was to provide a way for African-Americans in Lee County to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, as well as creating a Black History Museum in Fort Myers. The society aims to preserve and commemorate the cultural and educational contributions by both locally and nationally known Black people.

Currently, the LCBHC operates the Williams Academy Black History Museum at Clemente Park. The museum was opened in January 2001 and is the 1942 addition to the original building. It is one of the few early 20th century wood frame schoolhouses still standing in Lee County. The original Williams Academy built in 1912 was Lee County’s first government-funded school for black (“colored”) students. The school was named after J. S. Williams, Supervisor of the Colored Schools. The Black students throughout Lee County and Punta Gorda attended school at the academy.

For additional information about the Lee County Black History Society, visit www.leecountyblackhistorysociety.org, or call 239-332-8778.

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