Across the street from the Guzman’s home is a vacation cottage owned by Ralph and Marie Taylor Stewart. Ralph was the first accountant for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. The pension division of the AALF developed the land purchased by Lewis as a beach-front resort specifically for African Americans. Like the Guzmans, Ralph also had ties to Tuskegee Institute where he was a graduate. Ralph was also influential in recruiting Tuskegee employees and alumni to purchase homes on American Beach.
Next time you’re in the Jacksonville area, check out American Beach, a once idyllic place created by and for Blacks. It’s juxtaposition between a Ritz-Carlton and an Omni Resort does not go unnoticed; however, it’s actual location can be overlooked. Dedicate some time to enjoy the soft sands of the beach, visit the museum, trek along the Nana (the state’s tallest sand dune), and enjoy getting lost in the “rabbit hole” of learning about a time when those surroundings were as vibrant and spirited as Coney Island or Disneyland.
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