The descendants of a Georgia sharecropper who founded a historic Black neighborhood honored their relative’s legacy in a dedication ceremony on Saturday (May 22). In the 1940s, Dan Henry founded the community of Dansville in Florida, a Black community located in Pinellas County.
During the dedication ceremony, a historic marker was unveiled by city and county leaders and Henry’s grandson, David Baldwin.
“We know that history can take the form of a tremendous story, a rolling narrative, filled with great personalities and tales of turmoil and triumph,” Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice said, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times.
Baldwin told the story of how his grandfather came to found a thriving Black neighborhood during the Jim Crow era of American history. Dan along with his brother Lloyd left Georgia seeking opportunities in Florida’s citrus and railroad industries. In 1928, Lloyd purchased a plot of land where a community presently called Baskin is. Twenty years later, Dan also purchased two 40-acre plots of land where Dansville stands today.
Dan Henry shared the land with relatives and friends and soon a thriving Black community began. Years went by without the county formally recognizing Dansville, leaving them to drive on dirt roads and use well water, though the community relied on each other to maintain the grounds. After tornadoes devastated Dansville in 1992, county officials joined the community in its rebuilding efforts. At that time a major community rejuvenation efforts began, too, including recording the town’s history and developing additional homes.
“I just want to say thank you to the commissioners, the planning committee and all those who had a hand in bringing this commencement forward. I appreciate it,” Baldwin said during the ceremony. “If my granddad was still living, he would be very honored.”
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