Historic Markers Across Florida

Fort Lauderdale Beaches Wade-Ins

Marker ID: FLHM F-716
Location: 6650 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale FL
County: Broward
Coordinates: N 26° 7.154    W 080° 6.271
  26.11923333    -80.10451666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


On July 4, 1961, local NAACP president Eula Johnson and black physician Dr. Von D. Mizell began a series of nationally publicized "wade-ins" of Fort Lauderdale beaches. Johnson, Mizell, a third black adult, and four black college students participated in the first "wade-in." As many as 200 African-American residents took part in subsequent "wade-ins" during July and August 1961. The demonstrations were prompted by Broward County's failure to build a road to provide access to "Colored Beach," the only beach available for people of color. In 1954, the county had purchased the beach (now part of John U. Lloyd State Park), promising African-Americans beach access and amenities. By 1961, the beach still lacked tables, restrooms, shelter, and fresh water, and only members of the black community served as lifeguards. On August 12, 1961, the City of Fort Lauderdale filed suit in Broward County Circuit Court against Johnson, Mizell, and the NAACP in an attempt to stop the "wade-ins." Nearly a year later, on July 11, 1962, Judge Ted Cabot denied the city's request. The decision effectively desegregated the county's beaches and marked a turning point in the struggle to desegregate all public facilities in Broward County.

Erected 2011 by The City of Fort Lauderdale, The Florida Department of State.