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West Palm Beach woman a keeper of local black history

November 4, 2010

In September, we told you about the 90th birthday of Treasure Coast historian Ada Coats Williams. This month, we celebrate another: Ineria Elizabeth Hanley Hudnell, a walking time machine born Nov. 29, 1920. In three decades as a schoolteacher, and in the more than three decades since she retired and became a widow, she served as a historian, bringing exhibits to venue after venue. “When I started this, I couldn’t stop. And I’m still going with it,” Hudnell said in April 2009. She said it was because she believed God had a plan for her. But it’s also because no one else would do it. She fought for years, without luck, for a permanent place to house the history of the area’s mostly invisible black community. “I tell them all, ‘You don’t have to wait until Black History Month,’ ” she recalled once. “We’re part of the city,” Hudnell said in an April 2009 interview. “And it should have been part of us, too.” The Jacksonville native graduated from Florida A&M in 1943 and taught in Gifford. She moved the next year to West Palm Beach and started at Washington Elementary School, then a wooden building. A year later, she switched to Roosevelt High. She would spend more than three decades there. She married postal worker Arthur “Tiny” Hudnell and moved in 1959 to her home on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, then just a dirt road called 12th Street. At the time, West Palm Beach had two communities, each self-contained. They weren’t equal. But, she said: “I felt...

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This week in history: Integration comes to Palm Beach County schools

September 6, 2010

On Sept. 11, 1961, the first two black students to enroll in a white public school began classes at Lake Worth High School, making Palm Beach County the fourth in the state to begin integration. Later that day, Palm Beach Junior college admitted its first black student. The Palm Beach Post declared that "integration came quietly and smoothly" to the schools. Click on the image to browse the Sept. 12, 1961, Palm Beach Post....

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Dreyfoos has rich history on ‘The Hill’

September 2, 2010

Teens now attending the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts might not know the legacy of the historic complex on “The Hill.” Forty years ago this week, on Sept. 1, 1970, the original Palm Beach High changed its name to Twin Lakes. The moniker was shortlived, and the complex shut soon after. But it was too important to let go. Let’s revisit a 2004 column: Twin Lakes formed for all the right reasons, but it had a less than charmed life. For decades, white students had attended Palm Beach High, while blacks attended Roosevelt, about 2 miles to the north. In the fall of 1970, pressed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Palm Beach County integrated the schools. Forced to create a single entity, school officials named the two campuses “Twin Lakes North” and “Twin Lakes South.” The old Roosevelt High eventually became a middle school. “Twin Lakes High” finally closed in June 1988. It briefly operated as Palm Beach Lakes High until that school’s new campus opened Jan. 30, 1989, then shut down again. For years, it stood vacant. A total of $29.5 million was spent to renovate the buildings. The Dreyfoos school opened in 1997. The May 2004 column had said logic suggested “Twin Lakes” referred to Lake Mangonia, which fronted Roosevelt, and Clear Lake, near Palm Beach High. That prompted a call from Polly Kelly called in Lake Worth. She’d been Palm Beach High’s treasurer from 1967 to 1988. Polly said our conjecture was correct. She said a committee comprising faculty from the two...

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