L to r: Boyd Anderson High School teacher Billie Cole and student Chelsea Blackmon collect information from a grave marker at Woodlawn Cemetery on Nov. 26, 2013.
By Chelsea Blackmon
As Broward County approaches its centennial celebration, students Kristen Nguyen and Alicia Gordon and teacher Roberto Fernandez, III noticed that many Broward County residents knew very little about the county’s history. So during the fall of 2013, a new club was started at Boyd H. Anderson High School: History Across Broward Initiative (HABI). The club seeks to get students involved with historic preservation and writing about important historic sites in Broward County.
The organization is composed of about 15 students, and it happens to be the first of its kind at the school, and in the county. The pupils involved in HABI are dedicated to their work. Every Tuesday after school, they meet up to continue their project to tell the ethnic history of the county. One aspect of the project was them taking trips to the Woodlawn Cemetery located in Fort Lauderdale. While at the cemetery, the students fill out information about each grave seen. They even look to see if any memorable African Americans of Florida were buried there, like Dr. James Sistrunk; Broward’s first Black doctor. The students have seen a few interesting grave sites, the most impressionable of them belonging to babies and there was even a Jewish man buried at the cemetery. After observing such sites, they regroup with each other as well as the teacher, and then head home to do further research.
Another aspect of the project involves the collection of oral history that could shed light on the stories of the individuals buried at Woodlawn Cemetery or on Broward County’s African American history. For example, students recently interviewed Hazel K. Armbrister, who has lived in Broward since the early 1950’s. As the club gathers information, they intend to share their findings online at www.historyacrossbroward.com. Students from American Heritage School in Plantation are collaborating with Boyd Anderson students to write stories about the Fort Lauderdale wade-in’s and tourism in Broward County. Students intend to share their experiences in March or April by doing a presentation at the Broward County Historical Commission.
HABI needs your help
If you have information a-bout someone buried at Wood-lawn Cemetery and would like to help, contact the students at email@example.com or call the club advisor, Mr. Roberto Fernandez at (754) 322-0200.