What’s in a name? It means “everything” as the Porter Family celebrates the first anniversary of Porter Road
By Charles Moseley
Although Black History Month is celebrated annually during the month of February, it is often said that, “history repeats itself;” so was the case this past weekend when local residents from Fort Lauderdale’s Washington Park neighborhood, joined the Porter Family to celebrate a historical moment.
The historical event commemorated the lives of two African American pioneers in Broward County; in memory of Wilbur Porter, Sr., and Wilbur “Sunny” Porter, Jr. The celebration just happened to take place along Porter Road, last Saturday. It marked the First Anniversary of the street naming of Porter Road, in honor of the Porter Family patriarchs.
The day’s festivities began with an official ceremony which was recognized by City of Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler’s Office as well as by U. S. Congressman Alcee Hastings.
“It is with great pleasure that I send this letter of congratulations to the Porter Family in recognition of the official ceremony of Northwest Eighth Road to “Porter’s Road.”
“The Porter family patriarchs, Wilbur Porter, Sr. and Wilbur Porter, Jr., were pioneers in our Fort Lauderdale Community. Their spirit of entrepreneurship, work ethic, sense of community, and focus on family are renowned. The renaming of Northwest Eighth Road, where your family has resided for over 50 years, is a fitting acknowledgement of their accomplishments in our community,” added Mayor Seiler.
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness (District 9) joined in the celebration by stopping by to show his support to the Porter Family and com-munity. He shared why he felt events such as the one today are so important.
“It is very important for us to know our history. We just came out of Black History Month. It teaches our young persons the importance of doing well. Both Porter, Sr. and Junior led the way in enterprise and that’s a critical piece that we need to be engaged in, in recent times. We need to know how we can un-leash the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in us. That’s what made America great.”
Bonita Porter is Wilbur “Sunny” Porter’s daughter. She has been the driving force along with a host of family and friends who all worked to make this day possible.
“Today we are celebrating the memories of my grandfather and my daddy. We are living out the dream that I had. My daddy used to say to me, “Nobody is going to name no street after you!” But we did make it happen and we’ve got four signs!” I know he’s looking down on me know, and saying look at the job that she’s done.”
Father and son Wilbur Porter, Sr. and Wilbur “Sunny” Porter, Jr. were local African American business pioneers who made their mark as Black entrepreneurs who were highly respected for being the first African Americans to own and operate their own trash removal company in Broward County. Their respect however was not just limited between the rail-road tracks in what was then known as “Colored Town,” to distinguish the segregated boundaries that separated Blacks from Whites. Their impact on the entire community extended beyond racial barriers.
Between both Wilbur, Sr. and Wilbur, Jr., their legacy extends back to the mid- 1930’s when the elder Porter moved to South Florida as did many Blacks during those days from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and northern Florida in search of better employment opportunities.
Before moving here Wilbur Porter, Sr., traveled the country working on the railroad serving water to its passengers. His love for animals even led him to work as an elephant groomer with the Barnum & Bailey Circus early in his life.
After his arrival to Broward County Porter, Sr. held several positions including working at the Foreman’s Dairy in Davie, Fla. and R.H. Wright & Sons Cement Company in Fort Lauderdale.
Porter, Sr. opened Porter’s Rubbish, a trash removal company in 1949 and even found time to raise livestock and open a horse riding school.
Porter, Sr. passed away in 1997 at the age of 90 leaving a legacy whose footprint is still being felt today throughout South Florida.
Wilbur “Sunny” Porter, Jr., was a chip of the old block who continued in the footsteps of his adventurous father. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and he took the family trash hauling business to the next level and is credited with helping launch billionaire Wayne Huizenga’s Waste Management empire after Porter agreed to sell Huizenga one of his waste removal trucks and sold the rights to service part of the route he operated.
Before passing in 2009 at the age of 74, Porter, Jr., also worked for the Fort Lauderdale News, Sun Sentinel and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He had a love for family, friends, his community and anything that had to do with water sports from swimming, underwater diving, and his beloved fishing.
Today, Porter is survived by his wife Delores, daughters Bonita and Rene’, and a host of other family members. They all worked tirelessly to preserve their family’s legacy by having the street where their family home exists today renamed. Because of their family’s effort and support of the community, today Northwest Eighth Road in the Washington Park neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale be-came officially known as Porter Road, in 2013.
Daryl Porter is the son of Bonita Porter and the great grandson and grandson of the elder Porters. The former professional football player and NFL veteran enlisted the support of several former NFL veterans who came out in a show of support for the event they included Bennie and Brian Blades, Orande Gadsen and Troy Drayton.
“We are here today to honor and support two local pioneers and for their hard work in the community which has allowed us to get this far. It’s a great honor to have two relatives that showed me the way; keeping up their legacy and living out my dreams and just having the last name Porter and experiencing this with my kids and family is awesome.”