Newsletter: May 2nd, 2024

A New Site To See At The Beach Honoring Zack Straghn

On Sunday April 28, at the Delray Beach Pavilion, the Alfred “Zack” Straghn monument was unveiled.

Mr. Zack Straghn was a lifelong resident of Delray Beach. He was a funeral home operator, softball coach and Sunday School teacher.  Mr. Straghn was also a community leader and an activist. He fought alongside other community members to free his city from the inequities of racial segregation and discrimination. When Delray schools were desegregated, he bought a bus and drove minority students to the newly integrated schools to ensure that Black students arrived and returned safely.

In the 1950s blacks were not allowed to go to the public beach. “They sent us to another city to swim with a man with a shotgun watching us while we swam,” he told a WPTV-Ch5 reporter in a February 2019 interview.

In 1954, after his young cousin drowned in the ocean with several people looking on who did not offer help, his grief and anger caused him to organize a “wade in” which gained national attention.  It took eight more years before the beaches in Delray Beach were de-segregated on April 2, 1962.

Zack along with David Randolph was a founding member of the Village Elders, a community organization that still meets weekly to discuss minority issues in Delray, debate policies impacting the community, and present concerns to the City Commission. Even in his nineties Zack was a fighter for civil rights but he was also a strong advocate for voting and participation in a democratic process that respected everyone’s rights.

Zack Straghn died at age 92 on December 3, 2020.

For 60 years Zack walked from his home on Southwest 5th Avenue to the beach each weekday until his health would not allow him the pleasure.

In his honor, the unveiling ceremony began with a procession from Libby Wesley Amphitheater along Atlantic Avenue to the Beach. The ceremony was very well attended, the beach pavilion and surrounding area were teaming with members of the community and community leaders as well as dignitaries such as past Delray Beach City Commissioner David Randolph, Former Mayor David Schmidt, Mayor Tom Carney, City Commissioners Angela Burns, Rob Long & Tom Markert, City Manager Terrance Moore, Police Chief Russ Mager, Assistant City Manager Jeff Oris and CRA Executive Director, Renee Jadusingh.  

Best Regards,

The Friends Of Delray Board

Judy Mollica - President

Steve English - Treasurer

Gregg Weiss - Secretary

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