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Local group one step closer to starting African American History museum

Posted: 5:29 PM, Jun 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-28 04:53:11-04
Bruce McDonald at Roosevelt High School

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Behind old Roosevelt High School’s locked fence in West Palm Beach is part of Samuel Bruce McDonald’s legacy.

“It was a cultural center, concerts, dramatics it was more than just a school,” he said.

In the 1950s, McDonald got his start in education teaching history at Roosevelt High School.

“At the time I taught here if you were black and lived in Jupiter, Riviera you had to come here, you were bussed here,” McDonald recalled.

As years passed, McDonald worked alongside other community leaders to get African American teachers the same pay and benefits as white teachers. His work in the community led to a mural of him on a building located on 20th Street at Tamarind Avenue. But now the 91-year-old is coming out of retirement to teach one last history lesson on preservation.

“There is no today without a yesterday,” he said.

Now, with the help of Sen. Bobby Powell and Palm Beach County School Board member Dr. Debra Robinson his group, The Industrial/Roosevelt High National Alumni Association, is one step closer to opening the first African American history museum in this area.

“We originally asked for half a million dollars. One point it was whittled down to $350,000 which was vetoed two years ago by then Governor Scott and this year we were able to fight to get $150,000 in the budget,” Powell said.

But for McDonald and other historians there’s still a question as to where the museum will go. They’re hoping this new money will convince the school board to use this piece of history as the museum instead of tearing it down.

“I intend to walk this path I had my initial conversations with the school district administrators about this potential alternate plan and we are going to explore it,” Dr. Robinson said.

“Yes it takes money, but if you don’t take the first step you’ll never make the journey,” McDonald said.

The group will hold its first major event Saturday, June 29 at 6 p.m. called "An Evening with the Stars" that will showcase entertainment from many genres, including local talent from both seniors and youth and in between. It will be held at the Hurst Chapel AME off Silver Beach Road in Riviera Beach.