Boynton Beach City Repeals Century-Old Segregation Ordinances, Embracing Unity and Confronting Past Injustices

BOYNTON BEACH, Florida – Boynton Beach city commissioners unanimously voted to repeal three segregation ordinances that were established a century ago. These ordinances, although not enforced for many years, once divided residential areas into white and African American districts. Mayor Ty Penserga described this repeal as “the ending of an unfortunate part of our history” and a “formal ending that was long overdue.”

The two ordinances, created in 1924, established separate districts for white and African American residents within the town of Boynton. Additionally, a third ordinance known as a “Sundown” law was passed in 1933, which made it illegal for individuals over 18 years old to be in a segregated district of another race after 9 or 10 p.m. Commissioner Woodrow Hay, who personally experienced the discrimination, shared how he was warned not to be caught in these districts after sundown.

The city’s repeal of these ordinances is part of its unity project, aiming to bring together diverse communities in Boynton Beach. During the meeting, residents expressed their support for this symbolic move, seeing it as a positive step toward progress. However, they also acknowledged the ongoing marginalization and unjust treatment of their community, emphasizing the importance of teaching Black history in schools.

Hay hopes that this change will serve as a teaching moment for current and future generations, emphasizing the importance of educating ourselves to avoid repeating such discriminatory actions. As the next step, a unity march will take place this Saturday, followed by a symbolic burning of the repealed ordinances at a nearby park.

The repeal of these segregation ordinances in Boynton Beach, Florida signifies a significant step towards rectifying a dark chapter in the city’s history. By acknowledging the past and taking action to dismantle discriminatory laws, the city aims to foster unity and create a more inclusive community. Nevertheless, the work is far from over, as residents recognize the need for continued efforts in education and combatting systemic racism. This historic moment serves as a reminder of the importance of progressing towards true equality and justice for all.