Former American Beach Museum reveals new sign ahead of grand re-opening in Amelia Island

American Beach served as a place of refuge for African-Americans during segregation

A museum that shares the stories of important chapters in Black history unveiled a new sign Monday ahead of its grand re-opening in October.

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – A museum in Amelia Island that shares the stories of important chapters in Black history unveiled a new sign Monday ahead of its grand re-opening in October.

The newly renamed A. L. Lewis Museum at American Beach, formally known as the American Beach Museum, unveiled its new sign Monday to represent the changes the museum has made.

American Beach, which was founded by A.L. Lewis in the 1930s, served as a place of refuge for African-Americans during segregation. In Jacksonville, Lewis was one of the seven founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. He founded the beach for his employees and bought the land in what was known as FranklinTown at the time.

MaVynee Betsch, Lewis’ great-granddaughter and also known as “Beach Lady,” was instrumental in preserving the beach’s legacy and helped to have the beach listed as a historic site in 2001. A statue was dedicated in her memory.

The new “vintage-inspired” sign features an emerald green, burgundy and gold color palette with an image of A. L. Lewis.

Family members of Lewis and Betsch also attended the event.

The unveiling event featured a dedication by Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, a drum tribute by John Betsch and Rahman Johnson facilitated an African ceremonial ritual to show homage to the legacies of Lewis, Bestch and other ancestors of American Beach.

“First being humbled and then just feeling such a power that I am privileged to share with my people ― African-Americans and all people who believed that museums should tell the stories of all of us,” Cole said.

Executive Director Carol Alexander said the date of the unveiling was chosen for significant reasons:

“This date was chosen to specifically and spiritually memorialize MaVynee Oshun Betsch who transitioned on September 5, 2005. It also commemorates the inaugural opening of the American Beach Museum, September 5, 2014,” said Alexander.

The official grand re-opening ceremony will be held on Oct. 15.


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