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Florida Dwight Collection

Picture Portrait of Florida Dwight
Florida Dwight, 1895-1977

Biographical Information

Florida Cutton Dwight was the first director of parks and recreation for African-Americans in Jacksonville, Florida. The youngest of Robert and Charlotte Cutton's nine children, Florida was born in Jacksonville, Florida on September 27, 1895, shortly after the family moved her from Charleston, South Carolina - hence the name "Florida."

Florida Dwight graduated from Stanton High School and briefly attended Atlanta College (now Atlanta University). Upon returning to Jacksonville she earned a teaching certificate and began teaching at a school in Mandarin. Because of the long commute between her job and her family home, she became a boarder at the Cook's home in Mandarin and came home to her family on the weekends. It was through her association with the Cooks that she met Eartha M. M. White. Miss White, a noted community leader and humanitarian, suggested Florida contact Dr. Lyman G. Haskell (Head of City Recreation) about getting a job. Florida Dwight began working at Oakland playground on July 4, 1918. She was playground director at Oakland until 1928. During her time there, the crime rate and delinquency decreased.

Mrs. Dwight was instrumental in the development of several parks in the African American community. LaVilla playground opened in 1929 after a successful campaign to raise money for equipment. Wilder Park was the next recreational facility for African Americans to open. The park was located near the new Durkeeville housing project and was created to serve that community.

In 1936 Mrs. Dwight was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Negro Leaders in Jacksonville and was listed in Who's Who for Negro Leaders in America. She was an active member of Mt. Zion AME Church and a member of the Florida State Park and Recreation Board. Florida Dwight gave 32 years of service to the Recreation Department and retired in 1950. In 1982 the LaVilla Playground was renamed in her honor by the City of Jacksonville. Today it is the Florida C. Dwight Memorial Playground. It was designated a Jacksonville Historic Landmark in 1993.

Florida Cutton married David Dwight and had three children: Charlotte Stewart, Lydia Wooden, and David Dwight, Jr. She died on February 21, 1977.

Click on an image below to see a larger version.

Image of Florida Dwight 1918
Florida Dwight, 1918
Image of Florida Dwight 1930
Florida Dwight, 1930
Image of Florida Dwight 1950
Florida Dwight, 1950

last updated 23 August 2006 clb