SOUTH FLORIDA’S MIZELL-JOHNSON STATE PARK IS A BEAUTIFUL HIDDEN GEM WITH A HISTORY IN CIVIL RIGHTS

Beach at Mizell-Johnson State Park. Photo by Christine Sansbury

Beach at Mizell-Johnson State Park. Photo by Christine Sansbury

Twenty miles north of bustling South Beach, Miami lies a hidden patch of wild Florida. Stretching from Port Everglades Inlet to Dania Beach, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is named in honor of the two pioneers who led the charge to integrate the beaches in Broward County. 

Mizell-Johnson State Park 

Mizell-Johnson State Park 

In 1946 Dr. Von D. Mizell petitioned for the creation of a beach for black citizens, at the time blacks were denied access to public beaches. Over the next seven years, he kept the pressure on until authorities finally relented in 1951.  But the fight wasn't over. Even though black citizens finally got their beach, there was no road to access it. The county agreed to create and build an access, but they stalled for years. 

Eula Johnson Photo by Sun Sentinal

Eula Johnson Photo by Sun Sentinal

Finally NAACP chapter President Eula Johnson staged  a "wade-in” at the white-only beach near Las Olas Boulevard on July 4, 1961.  A lawsuit was brought against Eula Johnson by the City of Fort Lauderdale.  It was dismissed by the Supreme Court, leading to the integration of all the Broward County beaches. The road was not built to Mizell-Johnson park until 1965. The land was purchased by Florida from Broward County on August 23, 1973.

Beach at Mizell-Johnson State Park. Photo by Christine Sansbury

Beach at Mizell-Johnson State Park. Photo by Christine Sansbury

Perfect for a day at the beach or a family picnic, Mizell-Johnson State Park provides an abundance of recreational activities. Surf fishing, canoeing, swimming, nature study, boating and picnicking will keep the whole family busy. For those interested in South Florida's underwater beauty, this park has one of the easiest and most interesting shore dives in the area. The mangrove-lined waterway is a scenic place to canoe, observe bird life and take photographs. 

Jetty Picnic Pavilion at Mizell-Johnson State Park

Jetty Picnic Pavilion at Mizell-Johnson State Park

Christopher Leon, Park Services Specialist, shared with FabFlorida all that is fabulous about Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park.

FAVORITE SPOT AT THE PARK

Though I personally have several, my utmost favorite spot in the park is the little visited Barrier Island Trail, a short nature trail that encompasses mangrove estuary, a maritime hammock, and coastal strand ecosystems. Walking through the trails you are completely immersed in wildness, your view enveloped by trees blocking all sights of the city but for the passing airplanes.

FAVORITE TIME TO VISIT

Late in the fall, when summer beachgoers are at school and work, and winter tourists haven’t arrived yet, there is this peaceful, quiet emptiness to the park when you could walk the beach in near total solitude, with no sound but the waves breaking at the shoreline.

WHY DO YOU THINK MIZELL-JOHNSON STATE PARK IS FAB?

There are several things that are unique to this park, but I think the main one that draws most people is that we are an urban seaside oasis. We have a natural beach full of crabs and shore birds combing the wrack line for food. You can look from the water and be faced with dunes, trees and greenery rather than looming high rises.

This park showcases several habitats that are representative of South Florida’s ecology that are slowly fading away to development. But it’s also a fun beach park that people come to enjoy the day with friends and family and have been doing so for generations.  

Plan your visit 6503 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004 or learn more at FloridaStateParks.org

Unless otherwise noted photos are courtesy of Mizell-Johnson State Park