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Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Community Healing Project Inc. President Rell Black along with volunteers cleaned Daytona Beach on Saturday.

Photos By

Duane C. Fernandez Sr. / Hardnotts Photography LLC.

Story By

Rell Black

This past weekend was one for the record books for Daytona Beach. Over 10,000 citizens from Orlando, Ocala, Jacksonville, and Miami threw the biggest beach party since Black

College Reunion. There were drop-top Chevy's, well dressed young women and men, as well as, an overall sense of freedom, fearlessness, and the pursuit of happiness in the air. Everywhere you turned this weekend you were reminded of the old Daytona; packed beaches, smiles everywhere, a dance-off, and of course several ice cream cones falling from people's hands. The weather was beautiful and the aura of black unity was flowing in the air.

Now, once the alcoholic beverages got flowing and the sun got intense, people's true colors started showing. From gunshots to fights, to even an innocent young lady being hit by a car, a beautiful event went from successful to suspenseful in only a few hours. The national media picked up the story and on Saturday night "Daytona Beach" became the number one Twitter trending topic in the entire world. Beating out "Beyoncé" and "Covid-19" combined. Sunday morning, our city was the headline story on CNN and TMZ, truly making this all come full-circle. 

For a city that's known for Spring Break, Monster Truck Rallies, and Bike Week, I'm almost offended by the outrage and criticism that has come down on our city. as 89% of the attendees were from other cities. Local police Chief Capri, as well as, Sheriff Chitwood spoke out at Sunday's press conference . They stated that "there was no need for outrage as this is a famous beach holiday." I'm truly grateful that local leadership was able to avoid the recent firestorm that happened in DeLand.  Accountability is truly the key for us to move forward as a community. After reading a plethora of racist and dismissive comments made by national news outlets, I decided to take a stand and show that our city can come together in solidarity. My organization, Community Healing Project Inc. has hosted street and beach cleanups as apart of our "Street 2 Street" outreach program. We decided to host not only one but two cleanups, one on the beach and one right in the heart of the community on Second Avenue. Joined by a group of incredible, selfless individuals with hearts of gold, we picked up and removed several pounds of trash and debris and handed out waters to a few people. Community service is the backbone of our organization and we are so proud of the changes being made in our community.  Raised as Americans, we have become accustomed to the lifestyle of living in or visiting big tourist-centric cities. From the fast-paced energy of sunny California to the rumbling jungle of the Big Apple, we depend on these hubs to not only generate revenue for our country but also to be a bridge for other nations to learn about our culture. There's one city that is famous around the world for its tourists, its beach and its famous NASCAR Speedway. This very same city is also home to one of the most prestigious HBCU's in the nation. The city I'm speaking of is none other than our very own beautiful Daytona Beach, a city full of pride, courage, and unity. Our city is full of some of this nation's brightest students, hardworking citizens, and innovative entrepreneurs all working together in unison to create a positive environment for the next generation to successfully thrive in and become leaders in their own right. Our city is not perfect. It's leadership and policies definitely have their flaws however, the power of love and unity shown from my fellow citizens this past week, despite every possible negative label in the world being thrown at our city,  has shown that Daytona Beach is steadily evolving, learning and growing everyday. 

Rell Black is an award winning columnist, activist, and blogger.

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