City of Lauderhill names James D. Bradley, Jr. Park after Broward County Pioneer
Local elected officials including the Lauderhill City Commission, along with members of the Bradley Family, and West Ken Lark residents recently gathered to celebrate the dedication of the James D. Bradley, Jr. Park. (Photos by Uriah Bennett)
By Charles Moseley
Whether he was advocating for street improvements for the West Ken Lark Homeowner’s community before the Lauderhill City Commission, singing with the Men’s Choir at New Mount Olive Baptist Church, conducting a tour at the Old Dillard Museum where he was the unofficial “Griot”, or holding court at the Elk’s Lounge aka “The Black Country Club,”; James D. Bradley, Jr. always had a passion for living and giving to others.
He was highly respected and loved throughout Fort Lauderdale’s African American Community and one of its greatest ambassadors.
It is only befitting that the work of one of Broward’s most revered historians was officially recognized on Dec. 4, 2014, as the day the City of Lauderhill dedicated a public landmark, as James L. Bradley, Jr. Park. The park is located in the 1600 block of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and en-shrine the Bradley name in the annuls of Broward County history.
Unfortunately, Bradley did not live to see the one final project he worked so hard to see become a reality. Bradley succumbed on Sunday March 16, 2014, at the age of 84.
A contingent of local dignitaries, family members, and residents from the surrounding areas of the West Ken Lark community gathered to pay tribute to a man who gregarious nature and large stature was only surpassed by his passion and love for his community.
The entire Lauderhill Commission including; Mayor Richard J. Kaplan, Vice-Mayor Haywood J. Benson, Jr., Commissioner M. Margaret Bates, Commissioner Howard Berger, and Commissioner Ken Thurston each gave testament to their own shared experiences over the years in their interactions with Bradley.
“This park is a tribute to Mr. Bradley for all the wonderful work that he’s done for this neighborhood and representing this neighborhood. He outlined very clearly the goals that he wanted this community to have, the things he wanted the City of Lauderhill to do for this com-munity. And I think everything he put on that list we have now completed. And the last one was placing this park over here and I’m sure he would be very proud that we’ve moved forward on. Today I’m sure he’s looking down on us and is extremely happy,” said Mayor Kaplan.
Old Dillard Museum Curator Derek Davis, worked with Bradley for a number of years and witnessed on a daily basis just how much Bradley loved to share his gift to recall people, places, and events which happened a half a century ago. Bradley had an uncanny ability to recollect things no matter how insignificant which happened many years ago, as if they had happened just yesterday. Many local residents felt Bradley possessed a photo graphic memory which he was always willing to put on display. All one had to do was listen as Bradley spouted out with a twinkle in his eye, things which had happened many years gone by.
I think this is a great day for the community. Mr. Bradley always had that saying regarding, “the house that stood at side of the road.” But now we can say that Mr. Bradley has a park at the side of the road. I think his biggest thing was that he wanted to be a friend to the community and he did that by giving his service to the community. He loved his school (Dillard High), he loved the museum, and he loved the community,” said Davis
Bradley’s daughters Michele Foster and Pamela Haynes joined her mother Alice, Bradley’s wife of 61 years and other family members representing five generations in attendance at the park dedication ceremony.
“Today means so much to our family. I know he’s looking down and is really proud be-cause this is something that he really worked hard for and really looked forward to.”
James D. Bradley, Jr. was born on Oct. 6, 1929 in Wilton Manors, Fla. He was delivered by a mid-wife named Mrs. Covington. His parents were Flora Edwards Bradley and James D. Bradley Sr. They hailed from Live Oak and Rochelle, Fla. respectfully.
He graduated from Dillard High School in 1948. He began working for Florida Power & Light as a messenger from 1949 -1952. He served in artillery during the Korean War as a member of the United States Army in 1953. He worked in cash services from 1954-1994 at The First National Bank in Fort Lauderdale, where he retired.
In 1995 he was elected as president for West Ken lark Homeowners Association. For 16 years he dedicated himself to working to improve the lives of others in his neighborhood until his untimely death. He was involved in numerous civic organizations. He also was a member of the Broward County historical commission for 10 years and was appointed to the commission by former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Jr. He was an active member of New Mount Olive Baptist church where he song bass in the male chorus. He served as treasurer on the old Dillard Museum foundation board and an active member of the NAACP. He was a contributing historian to the 2001 novel entitled, My Soul is a Witness, by Debra Work. In 2011, he was recognized by the City of Lauderhill for his contributions to the development of Central Broward Regional Park.
After retiring he began volunteering at the Old Dillard Museum as a security monitor in 1995.
In 2001 he came aboard as a paid security person and shortly thereafter became unofficially, “The Historical Ambassador of the Old Dillard Museum. It was a match made in heaven and as they say, “the rest is His-Story.”