The Pleasant City Family Reunion Committee , is a community based volunteer nonprofit Florida corporation established October 11, 1995.
The mission of the organization is to preserve the history of Pleasant City, the Oldest African American community in Palm Beach County Florida, established in 1906; to build a museum of African American History and Culture to honor the Pioneers, to work hard to restore the family values, and self esteem that families shared in earlier years, before they left the Styx area on the Island of Palm Beach.
For more than 20 years the Reunion Committee has brought families together, enlightened, educated, and entertained the general public through the presentation of historic programs and activities.
The program includes a study of ancient history and culture that will help participants to understand present day history and motivate participants to establish their own identify, pride , and self-esteem. Learning the history and culture values of other ethnic groups helps improve race and class relations.
Please join us in making this dream a reality.
History of the Pleasant City Family Reunion Committee
In 1987 Everee Jimerson Clarke was appointed to the Broward County Historical Preservation Board of Trustees by Governor Bob Martinez and approved by the Florida Senate. She worked with noted Historian, Dr. Paul George and the Broward County Historical Society.
Historic preservation became very important as she studied oral history, toured historic sites in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
When she studied the renovation and preservation of the Old Dillard colored school in Fort Lauderdale, she was motivated to return to West Palm to preserve the history of Pleasant City. The Oldest African American community in Palm Beach County.
Everee Clarke volunteered at the Palm Beach County Historical Society at their Narcissus Street office downtown West Palm Beach in 1994. There she saw little interest in Black History especially of Pleasant City. She really became concerned when she met a young Palm Beach lawyer who was given a grant from the McArthur Foundation to write the history of Pleasant City. Being the daughter of a pioneer Pleasant City family and having lived so much of the history, writing and preserving it became a passion.
In September 1993 Everee Clarke called together sons, daughters, and lineage of the Pioneers of Pleasant City for the purpose of holdings a community Reunion and to begin efforts to preserve the history of Pleasant City.
The first meetings were held Saturday afternoons in Riviera Beach at the home of Bessie Collier Harvey, daughter of Rev. Arthur Collier, who had been an early pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
The Pleasant City Family Reunion Committee became a community-based, not-for-profit Volunteer Organization and was incorporated in the State of Florida, October 11, 1995.
The Incorporators were:
Everee Jimerson Clarke
Edward J. White
Marion Bacon White
Margie McCoy Rhodes
Rosetta Whipple Lovett
Olga Wallace Gidion
Helen Jones Height
Carrie Jones Price
Bessie Collier Harvey
Jennie Wallace Bowers
George Maxwell Newbold
Jerry Lean Billingsley
Dr. Leon Collier
Dr. Charles White
The Mission of the Organization
Membership in the organization comprised of the sons, daughters, and lineage of the Pioneers of Pleasant City from all walks of life including Education, Religious Leaders, Business, Professionals, and Government. Along with Eleganté International, a non-profit Education and Cultural Organization.
The Organization is open to all who have an interest in history and preserving the great history of Pleasant City. Many of our members live in other cities and states around the country yet have ties here.
The Eleganté International Training Program sponsored by the Pleasant City Family Reunion Committee is designed to expose youth and adults to a variety of beneficial and enjoyable experiences that will prepare them for a richer and more enjoyable life.
The Program includes a study of Ancient History and Culture that help participants understand present day history and motivate them to establish their own identity, pride, and self-esteem. While learning the history and cultural values of other ethnic groups, we improve class and race relations.
Meetings were moved to the Pleasant City Recreation Center to allow more community residents to attend. There was still quite a population of pioneer families left in the community at that time.
The city of West Palm Beach was planning a centennial celebration and we sought to be part of it. We began planning a Pleasant City Family Reunion which proved to be quite an event. We brought back to the community many people who had not been home in almost forty years.
Our reunion titled “Reflections” was held July 1-4, 1994 and included Welcome Reception, Parade, Economic Development Seminar, City Tour, Bar-B-Que and Street Festival, most importantly we honored the pioneers and their lineage. Among the honorees were: Ester Wallace Ebram, Mildred Pryor Burroughs, Pansy Harper, Forest Parson, Felecia Wallace Cleveland, and Floretta Mills Ivory, Willie Mae Artson, and Thedora Lawton.
Community Achievers were honored to inspire the youth to excel. Among the achievers were Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue, Dr. Gene Dawson, Edward Kinsey, Frances Y. Clarke, Mrs. Inez Lovett, and Dr. Orville Lawton.
September 1994 Newsletter Published
The Pleasant City Family Newsletter was published following the first community reunion to reach and inform former resident of happening here at home.
The Reunion Committee although organized to preserve history, found a need to feed and clothe the neighbors. The economy of the community was low because we lacked the business of earlier years. It became a mission of the Reunion Committee to provide Performing Arts classes and an opportunity for the economically and culturally challenged youth to perform before vast audiences.
December 22/24, 1995 The First Community Christmas Celebration
The Reunion Committee was able to get merchants and others to provide a huge Christmas Tree with decorations, food, drinks, toys, and gifts for 350 persons. Pleasant City-ites volunteered their time and service to make the event a big success.
September 21, 1996 Heritage Gallery
The Reunion Committee was given a mandate by the Pioneers of Pleasant City to establish a museum to educate and to provide Black History and Cultural activities for the general public.
The Reunion Committee became a 501(C)(3) non-profit Florida Corporation in 1996 certified to accept tax-deductible gifts and donations. They began to work on establishing the museum to honor the Pioneers and to leave a legacy for community youth.
The Pioneer families donated private collections, memorabilia, furniture, artwork, artifacts, legal documents oral histories, clothing, and much more along with a signed statement giving the Reunion Committee the authority to display and use photos and other materials.
The Grand Opening of the Heritage Gallery was held at our first headquarters, 2315 Dixie Highway. Mayor Nancy Graham cut the ribbon.
The Reunion Committee had no loans or grants at that time but with the help of volunteers and the expertise, labor and materials donated by the Committee members, gave the organization a sense of pride knowing that this project was theirs and that each person shared the responsibility to maintain it.
Aside from being a Historic Gallery, the Heritage Gallery became the first clothing and food distributor service in Pleasant City with food collected and distributed by Farm Share, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and Consumer Service, along with the Cultural Arts Program designed to include the entire family in all activities.
August 30, 1997 National Negro Baseball League Tour
At the suggestion of Bob Mitchell, former West Palm Beach resident and spokesperson for the Negro Baseball League, the Reunion Committee entertained 26 former Negro League Baseball Players with the assistance of Robert Rabenecker, Manager of the West Palm Beach Municipal Baseball stadium. The group was housed at the Omni Hotel, had a clubhouse reception, was introduced individually at the last major baseball game at the West Palm Beach stadium and were given an awards’ banquet at the Hilton Hotel. This even gave the community youth an opportunity to meet players of the Satchel Paige era, get their autographs and take pictures with them. This event had the support of most major corporations and community organizations.
December 20, 1997 Community Christmas Celebration
September 12, 1998 Pioneer Day in Pleasant City included a parade and re-enactment of history. A play written by Everee Jimerson Clarke titled: “Outstanding Women in Black History” was presented along with an exhibit at the Pleasant City Recreation Center. Pioneer Day was held September 10-14, 1999, September 15-17, 2000.
December 19, 1998
This was our last outdoor Christmas celebration because our supporters preferred to support the community Ministers in holding a celebration. This lasted one year.
With the cooperation of community merchants, Toys for Tots, the Citrus Groves and many others, we were able to include the Guatemalan children in the other Christmas celebrations. Rev. Isaiah Clark held his holiday celebration on Fridays and anything left i.e. a truckload of food was presented to us for our event.
April 16, 1999 Living Legends Tour
The Reunion Committee presented the Buffalo Soldiers, the Black Paratroopers and Mamie Johnson, the surviving female pitcher in the National Negro Baseball League to thousands of students in Palm Beach County. These legends were bused to three major high schools, Bear Lakes, Boca Raton, and Glades Central, ending with a banquet at the airport Hilton Hotel.
November 9, 1999 The Reunion Committee was granted its 501 (C)(3) IRS certification.
April 7, 2001 Youth Performing Arts Explosion
Youths from and throughout the community were invited to perform for prizes and awards at the Heritage Gallery outdoor event.
July 6, 2001 Founder Day Banquet
Celebrated the 75th birthday of President Everee Jimerson Clarke at the Marriott Hotel City Place. This even brought together her former students ande Pleasant City-ites from around the country.
December 28-30, 2001 Kwanzaa at the Heritage Gallery
Our first Kwanzaa celebration was very successful. Our guests were the Nursing Home residents and Homeless persons. Madafo, African Drummer and Storyteller, that the President met in Washington at the Smithsonian Institute was introduced to the South Florida area.
December 27-29, 2007 Kwanzaa at the Heritage Gallery brought back Madafo and introduced the Brazilian Dancers and other visual artists.
September 25, 2007 10th Anniversary
This was to be another Community Reunion but hurricane Frances interrupted our plans. Since the power was out in most restaurants we ended up feeding quite a number of people at the Heritage Gallery. Our banquet at the Marriott Hotel had to be changed from Sunday evening to Wednesday evening but it was well attended and enjoyed.
Father’s Day Celebration
Father’s Day Celebrations were first held at the Heritage Gallery our fist honorees were Reverend Gerald Kishner, Pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and Hank Harper, State Representative. We continued to honor the fathers but in a more elaborate setting at the City Place Marriott Hotel.
June 19, 2005 Father’s Day at the Marriott held to honor the oldest father, father with the most children, and the father of the year. The Father of the Year was Nathan Balfour of Riviera Beach.
June 18, 2006 The Father of the year was John Evans, member of the Reunion Committee Board of Directors and Parliamentarian.
June 3, 2007 The Father of the Year was Leroy Calhoun of Riviera Beach and Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
June 15, 2008 The Father of the Year was Edward J. White, charter member, former Vice President and Board Chairman of the Reunion Committee.
June 21, 2009 Father’s Day at the Marriott Featured an Evening of African Elegance with everything authentic. African Maxwell Eduesi with fashion from the House of African Looms, Baltimore. Ballet Brika dance troupe. The Father of the Year was Darryl K. Brown, Postal Clerk and community volunteer. The Committee honored West Palm Beach Commissioner Bill Moss.
Ladies in Hats
November 27, 2005 Ladies in Hats held at the Marriott Hotel, City Place introduced Hat designer, Harriet Rosebud of New York City, Minister’s wives or First Ladies of the churches, Business and Professional Women participated as models.
Our History book, “Pleasant City, West Palm Beach” was released by Arcadia Publishing Company. It was sold through Barnes and Noble Bookstore and was available at the Flagler Museum and Palm Beach County Historical Society. Some of the people that the President tried to give the book to refused it. The book was signed and presented to all City Commissioners.
The Heritage Gallery Cookbook Heritage Gallery Favorites was introduced in time for holiday giving. Proceeds benefitted the Heritage Gallery, the book sold very well especially as a holiday gift.
Ms. Senior Queen Pageant for women fifty years of age and older was introduced to give these women an opportunity to display their talents, expertise, and intelligence before a large audience. Winners were Andrea Peppers, Evelyn Russell, and Delores Watson. Winners of the second Ms. Senior Queen Pageant were Betty Corbett, Cynthia Becton, and Lula Howard Jimerson.
November 8, 2008 Black Saturday: Day of African Culture at the Heritage Gallery
This was the first outdoor event at the Gallery since the road construction and hurricane damage. The grounds were transformed into an African Village and featured authentic African attire by Eduesi of Baltimore, food, music, art, and artifacts. Artwork by the late Ernest James Mosley was on display. A special part of the evening was a Salute to Veterans and honored Rufus Jimerson who was a member of the Red Ball Express I Europe during World War II., Jeff Burns, who helped rescue Holocaust victims in German prison camps and Charles Foxx, who trained the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Reunion Committee is fortunate to have existed for 20 years while we have not had the large grants that several organization share. We have accomplished much with little resources and help from a few friends who continue to support the vision. If we had the support of just the people born, reared, and have ties to the Pioneers of Pleasant city, there would be no need for grants.
We can do it ourselves! Our accomplishments are many.
First we have changed the negative images of Pleasant City with publication and programs that we have presented.
The Reunion Committee has done much to change the negative images of Pleasant City. We present the history that Pleasant City-ites will be proud of but efforts are being made to discredit the Reunion Committee and all its works.
It is odd that in the beginning, everybody came to the Reunion Committee to learn the history of their churches, businesses, and its materials.
The Reunion committee has been the resource center for the Newspapers, The Historical Society, the City Housing Authority, and other organizations now interested in Black History, i.e. Storm of 1928 Memorial, Coleman Park Baseball Memorial.
Superintendent Johnson, Engineers, Architects, and others from the Palm Beach County School Board met at the Heritage Gallery to plan the new Pleasant City Elementary School. Information, photographs, and history from the Heritage Gallery was supplied for the ground-breaking ceremony.
The Pleasant City Family Newsletter has given history and materials that isn’t available in the public schools. The Newsletter published since 1994 informs readers in 10 states around the country of what’s happening here.
Through national recognition our dream has become a reality.
Our award-winning book and publications tell the story of our many achievements.
We may have stood alone in our efforts to preserve the history of Pleasant City, the Oldest African American Community in Palm Beach County, Florida. The legacy of Pleasant City is spread far and abroad.
We are charter members of the National Museum of African American History and Culture located in Washington, D.C.
It took several years for the organization to be recognized as an important entity in the community. Now we get calls from all over the country for information about the city, the people, and happenings here.
The President is still available for interviews and lectures about the history of Pleasant City and West Palm Beach in general.
For twelve years, the Reunion Committee owned the building at 2117 N. Dixie Highway which we had outgrown.
Since we have been out of our building and seeking a larger facility, much planning had gone into planning the Museum of African American History and Culture that will be an exciting educational experience for the community and a tourist attraction as well.
The Reunion committee want to bring back to the community, especially for our youth, the Eleganté International and Cultural program that have been missing since the Heritage Gallery closed.
The Reunion Committee needs a building that youth can visit and enjoy their history again.
The Reunion Committee has had an Architect design a building to fulfill the mandate of the Pioneers to build a museum honoring the Pioneers and to leave a legacy for coming generations of youth.
A very important part of the Reunion Committee’s mission now is to educate our youth. Get them off the streets. Teach them who they are and to guide them to successful futures. We have failed our youth and this must no longer happen. These are our children and our future.
No one of us is as powerful as all of us.
We invite you to join us in the historic adventure!