Eatonville is a town in Orange County, Florida, United States, six miles north of Orlando. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee metropolitan statistical area. The population was 2,159 at the 2010 census.
It was one of the first all-black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and was incorporated on August 15, 1887. Zora Neale Hurston grew up there. Every winter, Eatonville stages its annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities and the Zora Neale Hurston Library opened in January 2004.
While sources seem to disagree on the exact date and even the year of the town's incorporation, the town's own official site provides a detailed account of the process and the dates. According to that official source, the town is named after Josiah C. Eaton, one of a small group of white landowners who were willing to sell sufficient land to African Americans to create a large enough tract of land to incorporate a black town. In addition to this, Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God presents a brief overview of the founding of the town through the eyes of Janie Crawford, the main character of the novel, and some suggest a cipher for Hurston herself. The novel also mentions several places in the state of Florida that many outsiders would have no concept of without the novel.
The median income for a household in the town was $29,457, and the median income for a family was $31,042. Males had a median income of $21,719 versus $21,328 for females. The per capita income for the town was $11,257. About 21.9% of families and 25.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.3% of those under age 18 and 24.5% of those age 65 or over.
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Eatonville Cultural & Growth Corporation Kicks off Aggressive Campaign to Save the Oldest Black Incorporated Town in America
- Dedicated Group Committed to Saving an Important African American Legacy -
Eatonville, FL, June 17, 2015 – A small but determined organization has been meeting for more than a year to develop a plan to save Eatonville, Florida, the oldest black incorporated town in the United States. Eatonville was incorporated in 1887 and is located just north of Orlando. The Eatonville Cultural and Growth Corporation was formed as a non-profit organization and was established to execute a vision to provide economic growth for the town of Eatonville and its citizens. The first project for the group is to secure donations and grants to purchase a 117 acre tract of land that is the remaining parcel of property given in trust to the Town of Eatonville in April 1889 by Edward C. and Anna Hungerford. The land was donated in honor of the Hungerford’s son, Dr. Robert Hungerford and was to be used exclusively for the “Creation of a co-educational normal school for negroes”. The land was later deeded to the Orange County School Board and is in imminent threat of being permanently lost to the citizens for which it was intended.
ECGC must raise between six and ten million dollars to purchase the land. Ownership of the land was transferred to the Orange County School Board in 1951 with the understanding that the established school and other property would be used for the education of African Americans. ECGC contends that promises made were never kept and that the ownership of the land should be returned to the citizens of Eatonville. “Our success in securing the funding to purchase this land is critical, because a restriction that limits the sale of the property for non-education purposes is at risk of being lifted and other groups interested in purchasing the property do not have the best interest of the people, the culture or the unique place of Eatonville in their plans,”
said Abraham Gordon, President of ECGC and former Eatonville Mayor.
“ECGC will “work diligently over the coming months with an aggressive national campaign to educate the community and the nation of the unique place in history that the town of Eatonville holds. We will host fundraisers to obtain the resources we need to secure the deed to the property. We want the land the Hungerford’s bequeathed to Eatonville’s children in 1889 to yet again transform the lives of the citizens of Eatonville. Let us ensure that “The Town That Freedom Built” thrive said David Rucker, Vice President of ECGC.
About the Eatonville Cultural and Growth Corporation (ECGC)
ECGC is a non-profit Corporation established in 2014 and based in Eatonville, Florida. ECGC holds 501(c)3 status which makes your generous donation tax deductible. ECGC has a five phase visionary plan for the acreage they hope to purchase. The plans include a Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school that will be the focus of the first phase of ECGS’s transformation. “Our project will transform Eatonville educationally, culturally, economically and socially. We want the new Eatonville to mirror the first Eatonville, a city representative of the richness of contributions made by African Americans to the wealth and culture of Florida and America” said Richard Thomas, ECGC Treasurer.
How to Make Donations
Donations may be made via the ECGC website at http://ecgccfl.org/. Checks and money orders payable to ECGC should be mailed to ECGC headquarters at P. O. Box 2226, Eatonville, Florida 32751.
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Demographics of Eatonville, Florida
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BEAUTY CARE - HAIR SALONS - MULTICULTURAL
Fades To Fros Barber Shop - Category: Barbers - 501 E Kennedy Boulevard
- Eatonville, FL (407) 622-6200
New Image Hair Design - Category: Beauty Salons - 403 E. Kennedy Blvd.
- Eatonville, FL (407) 629-1998
BLACK BUSINESSES - SERVICES - VENDORS ETC.
Eatonvilleflorida.us - Category: Directory - Business directory for Eatonville and the Central Florida area. - PO Box 3485, Eatonville, FL 32751 - (visit website)
AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE
Hurston Museum - Category: Museums - 227 E. Kennedy Blvd. - Eatonville, FL 32751 (407) 647-3307 - (visit website)
DINING - CATERING - BBQ - SOUL FOOD
Gordon's Be Back Fish House - Category: Soul Food - 558 E. Kennedy Blvd. - Eatonville, FL (407) 644-6640
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