75 Years Later… Florida Legislation Passes Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Day

Miami, Fla. (June, 2020) — The Florida House of Representatives and the The Florida Senate recently passed a resolution proclaiming Saturday, August 1, 2020 and each August 1st thereafter as, “Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Day,”  in the state of Florida which also culminates the 75th Anniversary of the recreational community space and historic landmark.

“Segregation was a day-to-day reality throughout America’s South. It was a reality that systematically excluded all people of color from Miami Dade County’s most famous attractions, including its miles of beaches. These Florida House and Florida Senate proclamations speak to the systemic racism that people of color battled with for decades and continue to face even today. The current international uprising in mass demonstrations as a result of the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis, Minnesota police shows the resilience and sense of community of millions of fair-minded people across the globe.  The Virginia Key Beach Park Trust (VKBPT) has always stood for social justice, community inclusion, equality and uplifting the important contributions of African Americans in South Florida,” says Guy Forchion, VKBPT Executive Director.   

Originally dedicated in 1945, on an unequal, separate basis, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park (HVKBP) represents the focal recreational space where the black community at-large was allowed to gather, commune and create the conditions for solidarity necessary for a civil rights movement to flourish. Once designated a “Colored Only Beach” when it officially opened in 1945, the old Virginia Key Beach Park is the preeminent gathering place for all marginalized communities and social classes who live and visit the beach park. Miami’s former segregated beach, like no other recreational beach park of its kind during the twentieth century, continues to forge a sense of community through compassionate negotiation, experiential activations and creative communication between black and non-African American societies. Indeed, 75 years later the message of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is still contained in the power of responsible citizenry and leadership which led to the second reclamation of the Property.

In June 1999, a diverse group of citizens called the Virginia Key Beach Park Civil Rights Task Force led by Miami’s own female civil rights activist the late M. Athalie Range was established in response to plans to privatize segments of the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. The Task Force managed an inclusive and successful charrette planning process that set the stage for a master plan to restore the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and the creation of a restoration management trust; the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust (VKBPT). 

The mission of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust (VKBPT) is to carry forward the vision for the development and use of Virginia Key Beach Park, promoting and maintaining absolute public ownership and access, fostering its perpetuation as a passive open green-space that includes nature trails, recreational facilities and museum structures appropriate and compatible with the nature of Virginia Key; preserving it as a valuable resource to be enjoyed for posterity, and to honor the rich historical legacy of the social and civil rights history of South Florida.

The facilities are administered by the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, in conjunction with the City of Miami’s Parks and Recreation Department which grants unrestricted, equal opportunity access to the general public.  

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For interviews and media inquiries contact Kechi Okpala at 718-213-1702.For more information on Historic Virginia Key Beach Park call 305-960-4600 or visit https://virginiakeybeachpark.net