September 26, 2017

Local author Cynthia Wilson-Graham, co-author of the book Remembering Paradise Park, Tourism and Segregation with Lu Vickers, recounted the history of Paradise Park on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora. The program was cosponsored by the Bob Graham Center, the UF Dial Center and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

Wilson-Graham, an educator and lecturer, discussed the book but also spoke about local black history and experiences common to all African-American people from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Paradise Park, billed as the "colored only" counterpart to Silver Springs from 1949 to 1969, came to be viewed as a place of delight and leisure for African-American families during the painful era of Jim Crow.

Though both parks shared the same river, patrons rarely crossed paths.

Silver Springs was Florida's only attraction to operate a parallel facility for African Americans, but its story has gone untold until now. Wilson-Graham was instrumental to the installation of a historical marker by the Bureau of Historic Preservation at the former entrance to Paradise Park.