The Lee County Black History Society, Inc. (LCBHS) evolved from Attorney and Educator, Janice Cass’s desire to commemorate Black History Month on a countywide basis.
In 1990, a group of like-minded community members reorganized into the Fort Myers Chapter of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Alumni Association ( The Black Film Society). The group realized that to make the organization relevant to the community, the new organization would need to focus on local black history and culture. The Black Film Society would need to collect memorabilia as well as oral histories and find a place to locate the organization. The organization chose to become a ‘history’ rather than ‘historical society because the group wanted their organization to be living, breathing and growing, not staid or in the past.
The group incorporated as The Lee County Black History Society, Inc. (LCBHS) became a 501(c)(3) non- profit corporation in November 1994. During this period, research on the Black community revealed that the building which was to become the Williams Academy Black History Museum was the 1942 addition to the Williams Academy school building.
By February, 1995, LCBHS, with community support, raised $15,000.00 to move the Williams Academy building to Roberto Clemente Park. Once the building was set up in the park, LCBHS with the help of City and County Planning offices, was able to acquire a Historic Preservation Grant In-Aid from the Florida Department of State to help restore the Williams Academy building. The restoration plan was developed by Barger & Dean Architects, Inc.
LCBHS continues to collects local histories and memorabilia throughout the community. It is building its’ archives for research availability to the public. The archives will serve as a resource base for citizens seeking historical information pertaining to Lee County Black citizens and their histories. LCBHS annually sponsors traditional, cultural and historic activities during Black History Month.
Lee County Black History Society Mission Statement
To Preserve and commemorate the cultural and educational contributions by both locally and nationally known Black People.
The Lee County Black History Society, Inc.is a unifying organization which instills in all generations hope and pride in Black culture.
Trip Advisor: Reviews
The Lee Country Black History Society and Williams Academy Black History Museum is a wonderful treasure in Fort Myer. Located in a quiet park named for baseball legend Roberto Clemente, with plenty of parking, the society’s welcoming staff and three historic buildings with an interactive 1940’s segregated southern classroom offer a quiet refuge to learn about the experiences and contributions of local (and national) Afro-Americans in Lee County and Florida.
Here we learned about the women and men who lived and built the community (Civil War, WWII, educators, women entrepreneurs). Appreciated how the museum provided information about local families employed at the Edison Ford Winter Estates (didn’t see/hear this covered at the Estates). The geographic distances between the two is only 2.5 miles but the contrast is much greater. Very glad to have toured the Lee County Black History Society first and highly recommend a visit.
We are world travelers and one of our most rewarding experiences is to visit an Africian American museum in whatever city we visit. On this visit to Cape Coral, we found this hidden treasure called the Williams Academy Black History Museum, located in the Roberto Clemente Park. There we met “Betty”, who was an excellent tour guide, providing us with little know history facts about the people and artifacts of Lee County, Florida. Even though small in size, the magnitude of historical information would impress any visitor.
A visit to this museum is highly recommended!!!!
We visited the museum on a recent visit to Florida! You are immediately drawn in by Betty’s passion for our history and the pride she has in this little gem! Should be a stop you make when you are in Ft. Myers! #blackhistory365
This little museum is packed with donated items and lots of great local black history. We are white people from up north who found this very moving. Betty guides you through; her energy and passion make it come alive. With her help, it is an hour or two well spent. Hours are limited – call ahead.
This was a wonderful find. I had heard about it and actually have family members displayed in the museum, but it was much better than I anticipated. It is very organized and is FULL of black history in Lee County. I am extremely thankful for this place and hope to share it with many students in coming years.