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Sun, 07.29.1866

Howard Academy, (Florida) is Founded

Howard Academy

*Howard Academy is celebrated on this date in 1866. This was a school for Black children opened by the Freedmen's Bureau.

Located in Ocala, Florida, up until that time there had been no public and almost no private education for Blacks in Florida; education for slaves was prohibited by law and free Blacks were made to feel unwelcome and encouraged to leave the state. James H. Howard, a former white slave owner, donated land on the corner of Osceola and Third Street. Financial support and the teachers came from the North. By 1880, Howard Academy was run by Black teachers, among their staff was William J. Simmons.

Howard Academy was destroyed by fire in 1887 and a new school was built a year later at the corner of Adams and Bay, now Northwest Second Street and Northwest Seventh Avenue. Howard became a high school in 1927. It was one of two schools in the state of Florida that awarded high school diplomas to Blacks. (The other was Lincoln High School, in Tallahassee.) In 1935, the building was badly damaged by fire and had to be torn down. A new brick building was built a year later, near the site of the old building.

The high school at Howard Academy closed in 1955 when the students were moved to Howard High School, which is now Howard Middle School. That was still more than 10 years before county schools were integrated. The school building is currently the Howard Academy Community Center and houses the Black History Museum of Marion County.

Reference:

Ocala.OnCell.com

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