Story Project

Highland Beach, Ben Secundy

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Ben Secundy grew up in the community of Highland Beach. The experience so profoundly impacted him that now he is the volunteer Highland Beach Commissioner and docent at the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center located in Highland Beach. This is Ben’s story and some of the history of Highland Beach. In 1892, Major Charles Douglass, youngest son of Frederick Douglass, and Charles’ wife Laura, were turned away from a restaurant at the Bay Ridge Resort and Amusement Park because of their race. In the spring of 1893, they settled on the purchase of twenty-six and two-thirds acres of the land adjacent to that same property (across a small inlet), that would become Highland Beach. The Town of Highland Beach became a gathering place and beachfront community for educated African Americans, and hosted visits by many well-known African Americans of the day, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and more.