Historian, former student reminisce on Broward school’s mark on Black history

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A part of South Broward Black history is still alive and well, but some may pass it and not even know.

Attucks Middle School was actually a high school that catered to all grades before desegregation, and Local 10′s Alexis Frazier spoke to one of the last graduating members before it was desegregated about how he is helping to keep the rich history alive.

“I’ll never forget about the time,” Earl Garnet Beneby said.

Garnet Beneby said he still remembers his years spent at Attucks like it was yesterday.

“They called me the most wittiest,” he said, pointing to a picture in his 1965 yearbook.

Back before desegregation, Attucks was one of the only three high schools Black students could go to in Broward County.

The other two were Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale and Blanche Ely in Pompano Beach.

But South Broward had Attucks.

“This is the educational and cultural epicenter of South Broward Black History,” historian Emmanuel George said.

“I’m just grateful and thankful that I’m a student -- that I’m a product of this school,” Garnet Beneby said.

Even though it was a high school, the campus serviced first through 12th grades.

“Very few people can say that, but all 12 years of my formal education was right here at one school,” Garnet Beneby said.

The school was more than the walls that covered it and the old hand-me-down books -- it was a place where the teachers were more like family and family was a part of the community.

“So you got old books, but those tangibles that the faculty had, you know, telling you how to get ahead, teaching you how to carry yourself. And with that strong religious background,” Garnet Beneby said. “We were very important to each other.”

Garnet Beneby graduated in 1965. He enjoys reminiscing on his days at Attucks and still has his yearbook close by.

“Right there, I was the captain of the swim team. See that!” he told Frazier.

“Did you ever get in trouble with the principal?” Frazier asked.

“Nah, the only guy that I feared was the dean,” Garnet Beneby responded.

But today, some of those memories bring sadness, as well.

“The only thing is, it saddens me when I look at this book because I think about all my other classmates that are no longer alive,” Garnet Beneby said. “It really hurts me when I think about them because we meant so much to each other. Just the way that we developed our relationships was instrumental to me.”

Garnet Beneby now works with other historians to keep local Black history alive.

“My goal is to get these local Black history flash cards throughout Broward County Public Schools, throughout Broward public libraries (and) throughout cultural institutions, like old Dillard and Blanche Ely Museum,” George said.

Garnet Beneby credits his school for making him the person he is today.

“My heart lies into the school. It meant so much to me,” he said.

Those local Black history cards are already in Attucks Middle School.

In addition to those cards, George plans on creating a Black history museum and research hub in South Broward.

About the Author: