Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The American Beach Observer

The above photo taken by Ital Iman I unn13.com

MaVynee Betsch known as "The Beach Lady", was born on January 13, 1935, in Jacksonville, Florida. The daughter of John Thomas Betsch, Sr. and Mary Frances Lewis Betsch, Ms. Betsch was strongly influenced by her great-grandfather A.L. Lewis whose legacy she protected and advanced for 30 years. A.L. Lewis, one of seven founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Co., was a major businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. The insurance company that he founded, the Afro-American, was the first insurance company in the state of Florida, and he became Jacksonville, Florida's first black millionaire.

MaVynee attended public schools in Jacksonville and Washington, D. C., and a private Methodist, all girls middle and high school, Boylan Haven School in Jacksonville. She graduated in 1955 with a double major in voice and piano from the Conservatory at Oberlin College. Ms. Betsch went to Europe following her graduation where she studied voice and sang lead roles in German State Opera. In 1962, she returned to Jacksonville and began to both study and promote conservation and protection of the environment. She moved to American Beach, a place that her great-grand father A.L. Lewis in 1935 took leadership in purchasing for the "recreation and relaxation without humiliation" of African Americans during the era of segregation

MaVynee Betsch, known as the unofficial historian of American Beach, directed much of her passionate advocacy of the environment to the preservation of her beloved beach. She enthusiastically carried out Black history tours with "The Beach Lady". As a founder of the A.L. Lewis Historical Society, she and her allies lobbied to place American Beach on the national register of historical places; to make Nana, the 60 foot sand dune on the beach, the property of the national park service; to protect an old bridge as a fishing pier; and to provide a buffer of intact land between American Beach and development to the north. She was also a force behind countless other environmentalist causes. One of the endangered right whales, "whale 1151" named MaVynee by biologist who came to Amelia Island in the 1990's, is a whale known as a particularly rambunctious female. MaVynne Betsch, "the Beach Lady", is an icon among environmentalists and a hero to all who know and love American Beach. The story of her life and work, is the centerpiece of a book by Russ Rymer, "American Beach: a saga of race and memory". Articles chronicaling her deep convictions, extraordinary courage, razor sharp intelligence and impish wit are in numerous publications including New York Times; USA Today; Essence; Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Sierra, (the magazine of the Sierra Club); Coastal Living; Southern Living. The Beach Lady has also been featured on CBS and CNN.

Even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, which caused the removal of her stomach, 'Beach Lady' was still working hard for causes that would benefit others. She planned to open a museum that would contain the history of American Beach, the town where she lived many of the years of her life. Betsch never married and never had children. She was the older sister of Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, the first female African American cancer on September 5, 2005.


Above we read about the removal of her stomach, I will now relate to you a parallel I had found a few years back and this story was told/written somewhat as here originally on my now compromised website www.unn13.com

but first we will cover other spaces but listen for the shift:

American beach was created in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis .American Beach was a seaside community in Florida that catered to African Americans from the 30’s to the 50’s. Black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, developed the community for his employees at Afro-American Life Insurance Company who were not allowed on the white only beaches. Although the popularity of the beach declined after segregation ended, Lewis’ great granddaughter MaVynee Betsch an environmental activist devoted her life to preserving and educating people about the importance of American Beach. During this era, an African American was denied access to anything that was used by whites. They could not use restaurants, hotels, bathrooms, water fountains, and public transportation. Certainly, there were no resorts on beaches that would allow people of all ethnicities to enjoy the beach. As a result Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida’s first black millionaire, who earned his money by creating an insurance company, brought 200 acres of land on a beach located on Amelia Island so his African American employees had a beach to go to and were treated equally

He was born in Madison, West Florida just as the Civil War ended in 1865. He was not a slave himself. When he was fifteen he wound up in Jacksonville to work in a lumber yard and at a saw mill. He went to school when he was not working at the saw mill or the lumberyard. He was only nineteen when he became a leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Then he joined the Masons and played a big role in building the Masonic Temple of Greater Jacksonville when he was still in his thirties (Auburn Avenue Research Library).

The Afro-American Life Insurance Company was an historic Jacksonville, Florida, business founded in 1901. Initially called the Afro-American Industrial and Benefit Association, the Abraham Lincoln Lewis’ business was granted a charter by the State of Florida on March 1, 1901. During the early twentieth century, it served as the leading financial center of the African American community in Jacksonville, which was reflected in the Company’s name change in 1918 to the Afro-American Industrial Insurance Company. The business was later re-named the Afro-American Life Insurance Company; it became part of the rich cultural fabric of African American life in Jacksonville and routinely sponsored charitable and educational activities. In the mid 1900’s, The Afro-American Life Insurance Company began seeing increased levels of competition from other areas businesses. This lead to a decline in the company’s profits and it was eventually closed in 1990.

For the next three decades American beach became an escape from the harsh reality of segregation. Although there was a harsh and unfair nation, American beach became a safe place for African Americans to go and experience the joys that the beach had to offer. Freedom was not really a possibility for African Americans in the early 1900’s even though slavery had been abolished 70yrs earlier. Abraham Lincoln Lewis wanted to give the African-American community a place where they could relax and be away from the realities of segregation. So American beach represented Freedom they didn’t actually have, so this made it possible for them to enjoy their time out on the beach.Today, many of the efforts and businesses around American Beach are focused more on the historical aspect of the area. Most of these efforts are designed to preserve the beach. Recently, the National Register of Historic Places designated 33 acres of the original development for historic preservation. Because of these efforts, future generations will be able to learn about the history of American Beach and understand its importance during the time of segregation and American history in general. The National Register of Historic Places and businesses in the area will ensure that people in the future will not have to rely on their grandmothers to hear about and appreciate American Beach.

Tony Brown, Riviera Beach CRA Director, pops a bottle of champagne over the water at the end of groundbreaking ceremonies for the Riviera Beach marina redevelopment Thursday morning, April 10, 2014. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

I have told this story many times, so have I written it and lost it for different reasons.
this time I will start it different and I will pay tribute to a great man I was blessed to meet along the way, a great teacher who is among us still today as strong as ever, this great teacher gave me my first opportunity to share my knowledge to a broader group,by excepting me into his organization, called “some positive people” I must add that it was my writing that caught his attention, the letter I wrote him asking him to join his group, really caught his eye to the point he wrote back to express his enjoyment of my words.

Mansong Kulubally

I was reciting some of my poetry on a program brother Mansong Kulubally was 'putting on', it was at one of his programs where I read some of my poetry that I met the beach lady who enjoyed my work so well we stayed in contact to later move in together at the infamous afro American life insurance company building her great grandfather built,

this is the introduction of how I met the beach lady and how it came that I lived on American beach for 21 years, I will complete this story and you can read it as it unfold and it will be a grand old tale but true, in introduction you will see how this great empire became compermised.I was one they tried to keep outside but I was an insider before they knew me.and they never knew who I was,I was there to capture the true spirit,the only Man who truly knew the Beach Lady,this is of how that came to be…but first let us make a Art imitating life comparison here:

the Diva has several smooth, tentacle-like protrusions that are several feet long extending from her head and back.The nature of these tentacles are never explained throughout the movie. As mentioned, she has light blue skin and eyes, and dark blue blood. She appears quite tall in comparison to the humans around her. She appears quite slender from the waist up; her legs are not seen. Her head, while humanoid in the face, has a unique posterior end, which is large narrowed into a slight curl, similar to the head of an octopus. She has black fingernails and dark blue lips. It is not specified whether or not this is cosmetic or natural attributes of her anatomy.

we can planly see the physical resemblance of the two divas above

one from art another from reality.
A) Diva Plavalaguna is a famous and revered operatic performer in the film's universe. She is the trusted contact of the Mondoshawans, who entrusted the elemental stones to her for safekeeping before their demise at the hands of Mangalore mercenaries.
B) Singer, environmentalist, activist and survivor MaVynne Betsch was born on January 13, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida. She was raised in one of the most preeminent black families in the South. Betsch is the daughter of Mary and John Betsch, and the great-granddaughter Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who founded Florida’s oldest African-American beach, and Anne Kingsley, the African American wife of plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley. Betsch was educated at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Upon completion of her bachelors’ degree in 1955, she moved to Europe where she was an opera singer for ten years.

NOTE: The Two women were oprea singers. now lets look at something else they had in common.

A)"The bullet hole Later, the Diva is shot through the abdomen while still on stage by invading Mangalores. She falls, with Korben reaching to her and pulling her down to the floor behind the seats. Encouraging her to stay awake, he implores her to tell him where the stones are. She tells him about Leeloo's strength, and that she is more fragile than she appears, requiring both his love and support to complete her mission. She informs him with her dying breath that the stones were "...in me." Korben deciphers this to mean that the stones were literally being housed inside her, being able to access them by reaching through in her abdomen and pulling them out"

B ) " In spring 2002, MaVynee was diagnosed with cancer, and surgeons removed her stomach. That triggered her familyís insistence that she finally move indoors. In the fall came worse news: her cancer had recurred and spread, and doctors said she might have only months to live. Thatís why I was calling. When MaVynee heard my voice, she picked up the phone (MaVynee, already screening her calls!), but she didn ít to linger on her health. She wanted to discuss her plans. MaVynee intends to start a museum".

NOTE:both A) and B) has something to do with their stomach,The diva of 5th element was carrying the four stones in her stomach and got shot in the stomach,and some one had to place his hand through the hole in her stomach to retrieve the four stones,notice that the beach lady has cancer and her stomach has to be removed,notice we dont know what type cancer The Beach lady had,and why did they have to remove her stomach.

Now I will give you a synopsis of the movie the 5th element and you can compare the relation it has to American beach,,but first compare Plava Laguna and Amelia Island florida where American beach and beach lady is...

Plava Laguna below

we are saying that like the Diva of fifth element.The 'Beach Lady' Had a Mission
there are some stories they say that are not meant to be told, they also say some things are not meant to be heard.my theory is that sometimes there are two sides to a story like some people say there is always two sides, but maybe not, maybe just one side sometimes. The reason I will tell this side or bring out a few observations not made by others is because there is what I view as class racism or class prejudice, among black people themselves, the haves look down on the have not’s, and this is prevalent on all; levels of our social ladder of black culture, it is the same among the so-called conscious community, ones who were a little more well off would take trips to Africa and come back with subtle snobbishness, there were clicks in culture community. These are the people who received the government grants and ran all the not for profits and made all the money off of events of culture, the fact that they were aware of the real spiritual and natural, culture I’m recording this story because it was triple hard for us as we were discriminated against on all levels.

 I can remember when I first moved onto American beach, a few of the home owners came over to welcome me in,(being Nosie) my neighbor in a two story home, made it a habit to ask me weather I had a job like everybody else, it was this kind of pressure which makes it a war in these type environments. shortly after settling in I can remember my neighbor Mr. Barnett :Came out to his drive- way looked over at me standing on my porch enjoying the view speaking at same time asking me this question,”you don’t have a job like everybody else do you” he died shortly after with Cancer. And his family moved away and would only return each summer, and for years we lived a good life on the beach, we had brought visible culture to the beach made it functional,we placed artifacts affront the home with a Mayan theme. on weekends we would set up our tents and sell our arts and crafts .before the year 2000 over 3000 people would come to the beach each weekend, so we had a life plus we would go to flea markets, in the year 1996 we opened an art gallery in Jacksonville called Chilam Balam, we spent a lot of time at the gallery.

 and the children are growing up being influenced by other than us. I started brokering a radio program around this time by the same name., at this time there is constant police harassment on the beach,things are changing now home owners and government working together.I must say I sold much art work there. became somewhat an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist,as journalist capture events in picture and many pictures of new places coming up rtc., had an in depth documentation of American beach from 1993 to year 2000, and all my efforts were to no avail due to my uneducated and spiteful childrens mother who during her bout of bi-polar or just plain evil would get upset with me,and throw my art away,like most negros she had no sense of future and the vaulue of my work, I had gathered enough to have a small museum or art gallery.

 well here is that story,as you have heard above how we met as I was reading some of my poetry.literature was a large part of our relationship, her mothers name was Mary so was the supporter of Kahlil Gibran the poet, her mothers name was Mary Elizebeth and I think she shared the name, the beach lady was my supporter,we compared ourselves to Mary and Kahlil;she say me as a prophet,and I saw the relation between me and his workl the prophet. let me give you some of the spiritual history,The beach ladies family home on Greg street: the original address was 666 Greg street.from this number we can get a clear picture of who the Beach Lady truly was;first let us look at a political statement made by here, and note how profound the statement:she drops the 'R' from her name MaRvynee to (Mavynee) because of Ronald Wilson Reagan;she said she did not agree with his politics, note that Reagan was known as symbol of the beast 666 because of the letters in his name and his close relationship with the destiny of pope John Paul, now keep in mind there's a big 666 on the family mailbox.we will call her "Beast Lady" instead of "Beach Lady"why will we do this : it is common knowledge she spent much time sleeping on porch of many of the homes that were abandon in the enclave, she was homeless on her own land. and on full moon lite nights she would howl at the moon,she told me that she felt God made a mistake by creating man. she did not care for people her love was for the Animals, this is why she gave away all of her money,she brought a new home for a friend one Mr Robert Powell:

Robert Pyle


Robert Michael Pyle is a lepidopterist and author living in Grays River, Washington who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. He has a Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Wikipedia

Born: July 19, 1947 (age 67),Denver co

Education: Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (1976),University of Washington

Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada,we lived the summer of 1982 in her grandfathers Afro life building on union street in a small apartment, where we founded the "afro american vegetarian society" with the last $300.00 of her inheritance she published my first Book of poetry(of prose and con) 1,0000 copies a book I dedicated to her and my Family which was wife and first two children .(there are a box of books still floating around among her things in family keep.her dusty walls were plastered with many check stubs where she had gave money to many save this or that animal society,the walls were full of these checks to green peace and the such,she sent money to and old sea captian named triston jones,only men she was interested in or found interesting was Triston Jones Myself and Dick Gregory that was because me and Dick did a lot of Fasting.

she was not your average woman,all that knew her were familiar with her hygienic practices or the lack there of,she did not bathe like normal people she would use alcohol only to remove dirt, as if in constant survival mode.and sometimes it was rumored she would get in the ocean, but having a body odor was a consciousness thing with her, nor did she wash dishes when we were together,she would feed me out of a plate or bowl and then lick it clean after I ate, and expected me to eat from same plate in return,this is the same woman that wanted me to make a Native American blood pact with her by silting my wrist and she her's that we cross and join arms as one. now remember she died of cancer, not many know it, that was not first time she had cancer.

 she had cancer in the 1970's but cured it by eating honey.and burying herself in the sand,she was a very heavyset woman with large breast. she lost weight after she became vegetarian. I was the only man other than the one she was in love with in Europe that relationship went sour and some say so did her life or mind after that, (no one knew his name) I know she had a deep disdain for men and humans in general that was not publicly known;as I was saying I was the only man she ever had any close relationship with since her Diva days in Europe;remember the opera she sang in madame butterfly, also"Salome"   in dance of the seven veils .she plays a part where she ask for the head of St. John the Baptist, spiritually this is where our relationship connects, but first I would like to point out a couple points brought out in this write up about her by a Sierra club writer.from the following story you will get a birds eye view of Beach Lady and make a greater connection with this story.as in one place the sierra club article has most information about the subject todate.


Madame Butterfly

For MaVynee Betsch, activism is always a bravura performance

The education of MaVynee Betsch began with a fistful of five-dollar bills. Betsch grew up in a 22-room mansion in Jacksonville, Florida, and spent the 1930s and '40s immersed in the city's thriving African-American neighborhood. Her great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, had helped found the Afro-American Life Insurance Company—"Florida's first life insurance company, black or white," says Betsch—and it had become a bulwark of Jacksonville's black community. Lewis, meanwhile, had entered the record books as Florida's first African-American millionaire. Immensely proud of his race, and with an acute sense of social responsibility, our house," Betsch remembers. As she tells it, Lewis even went to the trouble of changing 20-dollar bills for 5s, Lewis would lecture his great-grandchildren: "Understand that everything you do makes a statement, whether it's your jewelry, your clothes, he preferred to do his business with the portrait of Lincoln rather than that of the hated Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson.

Now, at age 70, Betsch lives on Florida's Amelia Island, just shy of the Georgia border and less than an hour's drive from her childhood home. She follows her great-grandfather's guidance—though perhaps not quite as he intended. A gaunt six feet tall with plumb-line posture, she wears clothes that would outshine the plumage of a tropical bird and decorates her elegant neck with beads, stones, and seashells strung on fishing line. "See this dreadlock?" Betsch says a few moments after we meet in her breezy second-floor apartment. The winding gray mass of hair, draped over her arm, is impossible to miss—as thick and wide as a parka sleeve, it's a good seven feet long. Today, she says, it symbolizes an elephant's trunk. Other days it represents the curve of the Niger River, or the Gulf Stream. Whatever meaning she chooses, her coif provides an opening for a history lesson or an environmental or political diatribe.

"It's all hooked together—the hair, the clothes, the colors," Betsch says. "I wear orange lipstick because, baby, during the days of segregation, they couldn't even leave the ocean alone. They put an orange rope in the water, and one side said 'White,' the other side said 'Colored.' A rope! Out! in! the! ocean! Can you believe it?"

Even her name, pronounced "Ma-veen," requires a politically charged translation. Christened Marvyne, Betsch added an extra e for the environment, and dropped the r in the 1980s to protest the environmental policies of the Reagan administration. (Her friends now wonder when Betsch will become Etsch.) An inveterate performer, Betsch was trained as a singer at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where she graduated near the top of her class, and launched an operatic career in Europe. It's been nearly half a century since she played Madame Butterfly and Salome, but her voice can still swoop from a deep rumble to a piercing squeak, then explode into hoots and screams of laughter.

These days the main beneficiary of Betsch's unchecked energy is her home, the unincorporated community of American Beach on Amelia Island. Amid the narrow, 13-mile-long island's high-rise condominiums and gated developments stands the town—a quiet 120-acre jumble of cottages, cinder-block buildings, and jarringly new homes cradled by a 60-foot sand dune, the tallest on Florida's east coast. American Beach is a historical landmark and a relatively intact smidgen of coastal habitat—an unusual mix of culture and nature that Betsch is fiercely determined to protect.

American Beach was founded in 1935 by Betsch's great-grandfather. Born just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, A. L. Lewis was all too aware of the legacy of slavery, and of the pain caused by segregation. A philanthropist as well as an entrepreneur, he decided to establish a resort for African Americans, a place for "recreation and relaxation without humiliation." Lewis's Afro-American Life Insurance Company, known as the Afro, purchased several adjoining tracts of beachfront land on Amelia Island and sold homesites to prominent black Floridians. Though there were a few other southern beaches that welcomed African Americans at the time, American Beach was one of a scant handful that offered lodging, restaurants, and entertainment—all the makings of a proper resort. In the decades that followed, the wealthy and the not so wealthy came to American Beach in droves. They traveled from all over the South, often venturing through rural counties sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan. They packed Evans Rendezvous, a beachfront nightspot, where they danced to live performances by Ray Charles and Duke Ellington. "Oh, I can still feel the joy today," says Marsha Phelts, a local historian who grew up visiting American Beach. "You were with everyone you loved, your family, your buddies from church. You'd hop from one blanket to another, visiting pals here and pals there. It was fun, fun, fuuuun." American Beach was just one expression of black prosperity in the region. LaVilla, the Jacksonville neighborhood where Betsch grew up, was crowded with black-owned businesses and drew national musical acts to its theater. The Afro built an ultramodern glass-and-marble office building in 1956, a style later adopted by white-owned companies. "We walked around so proud," says Betsch. "We didn't have to ask white folks for anything!"

Ironically, one of the greatest victories of the civil rights era helped dismantle these accomplishments. With desegregation, blacks poured into white-owned businesses, but few whites visited black-owned establishments. In his 1998 book American Beach, journalist Russ Rymer describes one effect of this reform: "The whole economic skeleton of the black community, so painfully erected in the face of exclusion and injustice, collapsed as that exclusion was rescinded."

Betsch, drawn home from Europe by the call of family in the mid-1960s, found her childhood neighborhood—and her beloved beach—in decline. She settled in Jacksonville with her mother, who had bought a suburban house overlooking a marsh. And that view, Betsch says, was the beginning of her career as an environmentalist. "It was like something in my brain just went," she says, snapping her fingers. "There were herons; the ducks would come in November. I read every book about birds I could find. I went berserk."

After her mother and grandfather died in 1975, Betsch moved into her grandfather's house on American Beach. Amelia Island was thick with greenery: Twisting oak branches hung with Spanish moss shaded its narrow roads, and its forests were studded with pines, magnolias, and spiky saw palmetto. Betsch had some health problems and spent long days alone on the beach, convinced nature was curing her. The beach's butterflies particularly entranced her. "It was those colors—and flight for its own sake," she says.

So when Betsch contemplated her substantial inheritance, she thought not of yachts or trophy homes, but of insects. She read about an organization dedicated to their conservation, the Xerces Society, and wrote to its founder, butterfly expert Robert Michael Pyle. Over the next several years, she donated frequently to Xerces, paying for travel that helped researchers create the first International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources "Red Data Book" for invertebrates—still the most comprehensive list of threatened invertebrate species. Betsch's contributions also fueled efforts to protect the world's largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly of Papua New Guinea.

Betsch sent Pyle hundreds of encouraging letters over the years, along with the occasional pot of honey or packet of medicinal herbs. "She has such a marvelous, contagious spirit," says Pyle. "I've known thousands of conservationists, but I don't know of anyone else more convinced of the rightness of their work."

Adopting her great-grandfather's tradition of philanthropy (but not his methodical business habits), Betsch became a life member of ten environmental organizations and at one point belonged to more than 50 groups, including the Sierra Club. "As soon as it came in the mail, I would join it," she says. She treasures a letter from Kenyan environmental activist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and an Audubon Society field guide to butterflies by Pyle, which carries her name on the dedication page. "Being black and in the South, I thought I was powerless here," she says. "Most of the causes I supported were far away."

Before long the money ran out. Way out. Betsch was forced to sell her grandfather's house, and for a time she even lived on a lawn chair on the beach. Her sister Johnnetta Cole, an anthropologist who's now president of Bennett College in North Carolina, gave her a small RV, providing Betsch with space to store her expanding collection of press clippings, books, magazines, and historical documents. Betsch gets by on a small stipend her sister sends each month, and she says, demurely, "We are limited now." But she won't admit to any regrets. In the opera, she points out, the rich hardly ever get to play the romantic lead.

In the face of her reduced circumstances, Betsch began calling herself the "Beach Lady" and focused on battles closer to home. In the early 1970s, mega-resort developers had discovered the charms of Amelia Island. And the residents of American Beach soon found themselves sandwiched between burgeoning luxury developments, their pocketbooks squeezed by rising property taxes. Land purchases by developers shrunk the town to about half its original size.

American Beach could easily have disappeared—but it didn't, thanks to Betsch and her allies. She won a battle for a buffer of intact land between American Beach and developments to the north. On the south end of Amelia Island, she helped protect an old bridge as a fishing pier. She and others also blocked developments on adjacent islands and successfully campaigned to add American Beach to the National Register of Historic Places. During these campaigns, she regaled county commissioners with speeches about "devil-opers," wrote letters, spoke to school groups, traveled to the state capital in Tallahassee to lobby and protest, and otherwise made herself impossible to ignore. "It's history and nature all wrapped together, baby," she says. When biologists came to Amelia Island in the 1990s to study the endangered right whale, they were so inspired by Betsch's persistence they named a whale after her. "Whale 1151—that's MaVynee—is known as a particularly rambunctious female," says biologist Chris Slay.

Despite—or maybe because of—her theatrical style, she attracted a diverse crew of allies, white and black, rich and poor. Several of her friends say, only half jokingly, "I just do what MaVynee tells me to." Phillip Scanlan, a former AT&T executive in New Jersey who retired to a gated community on Amelia Island five years ago, got to know Betsch when they were both active in the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club. "When I came here, I knew nothing about this county," he says. "MaVynee was my coach."

Through it all, Betsch's renown grew. Her apartment—the successor to the RV—is lined with plastic milk crates, each filled with documents and labeled with her looping handwriting. Magazine and newspaper articles, many about Betsch herself, lie in drifts on nearly every horizontal surface, the text festooned with asterisks, double lines, and exclamation points. A small wooden billboard outside her apartment advertises "Black History Tours with the Beach Lady" and features her unmistakable silhouette.

Scanlan, who takes Betsch shopping about once a week, says, "When we walk into Wal-Mart, everyone starts waving and two cashiers want to wait on her. They say to me, 'Who are you?' and I say, 'Oh, I'm just the chauffeur.'" When Betsch and I visit her great-grandfather's mausoleum in Jacksonville, a young man driving by in a pickup waves, shouting, "Beach Lady!" across four lanes of traffic. Betsch smiles and shrugs. She has no idea who he is. Betsch's most memorable performance yet was undertaken on behalf of the dune locals call NaNa. Rising behind American Beach's homes like an amphitheater, NaNa is an imposing centuries-old reference point for mariners. It's also a part of local history. "You hear the stories," says Carol Alexander, executive director of an African-American theater and museum in Jacksonville. "People will say, 'Yeah, I got my first kiss up there on NaNa.' There's a life force about it."

In 1995, a developer purchased about 100 acres of the original American Beach property, including the dune. The undeveloped tract, unlike most of the rest of the town, had remained in the hands of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. When the Afro hit hard times in the 1980s, it put the land up for sale. The Amelia Island Company, which had already built a 1,300-acre resort nearby, soon broke ground for Osprey Village, a retirement and golfing community, directly behind the dune. Though the company placed a conservation easement on most of the dune, Betsch and other residents didn't think that was enough. Betsch wrote repeatedly to the company's president, Jack Healan, and to state agencies, imploring them to cement protection for NaNa. "She just kept it out there constantly," says Alexander. "She knew that NaNa would be next."

But in 2002, Betsch underwent major surgery for colon cancer. That's when Alexander, searching for a way to honor Betsch's work and lift her spirits, called the company's president herself. Healan, who knew Alexander, was receptive to her ideas and eventually agreed to donate 8.5 acres to the National Park Service's Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, a network of sites in the Jacksonville area. The problem was, adjusting the boundaries of a national park or preserve requires an act of Congress.

So began a new round of negotiations. Senator Bill Nelson (D) and Representative Ander Crenshaw (R), both of Florida, introduced congressional bills approving the addition. In May of last year, Alexander traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak to the Senate National Parks Subcommittee on behalf of the proposal. In October, President Bush signed the legislation, and NaNa officially became the property of the National Park Service.

At a ceremony in 2003, when Healan made his pledge to donate the land to the park, Betsch presented him with a signed photograph of herself. "You didn't have a chance," she teased. Thanks largely to Betsch and her wily activism, the natural and historical monuments of American Beach stand a good chance of survival. The Trust for Public Land recently purchased Evans Rendezvous and plans to turn over the shabby but still sturdy building to the county. After restoration, it could become a visitor center, an event venue, a small museum, or a combination of the three.

As president of the A. L. Lewis Historical Society, Alexander is now helping to plan a series of "family reunions," summer beach gatherings that will include the old and the young. "As long as we keep talking about it, American Beach will stay alive," she says. "Younger people will create a new culture there. They'll start to etch in the sand what it means to have this leisure area for themselves."

Though Betsch has defied all the expectations of her doctors, and was well enough to attend three gala birthday parties her friends threw for her last January, her health remains precarious. "MaVynee's at the point where she's saying"—and Alexander lowers and slows her voice to do a convincing imitation of Betsch's—"'Baby, I've done what I'm supposed to have done.' And she's absolutely right."

Michelle Nijhuis is a freelance writer living in western Colorado.

ok at this point we will point out a few facts about the conversation we started on numerology above the home being at 666 etc., notice above her great grand father taught them:"The education of MaVynee Betsch began with a fistful of five-dollar bills.Betsch remembers. As she tells it, Lewis even went to the trouble of changing 20-dollar bills for 5s, preferred Lewis would lecture his great-grandchildren: "Understand that everything you do makes a statement, whether it's your jewelry, your clothes, or young to do his business with the portrait of Lincoln rather than that of the hated Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson."

the wisdom of her grandfather was a thing of destiny as that number 5 followed her even unto her grave. note she was Born January 13, 1935=23 23 is resonant number of sirius,and 2+3=5.note she was born 1935 and died 2005/ it was Sept 5 the date she died.

January 13, 1935

She made her transition from her home on American Beach on the morning of Sept. 5, 2005.

She was posthumously honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by the Dalai Lama on November 12, 2005. The Beach lady had a very esoteric mind I will point it quiet clearly here.for she is the one naming the said 60 feet sand dune NANA,why was the dune named NANA,it is not written any where the reason for the name, all that is known is that the grand Dune was named by the beach lady,The first wife of Zephaniah Kingsley a white plantation owner whos first wife Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley

who the Beach Lady is a decedent; what Mayvynee did was rearrange the letters in the first Name of Kingsleys wife to get the name of the sand dune, so esoterically the sand dune was named after her relative who was a real life African queen who was the wife of a southern plantation owner,her life is very interesting....the kingsly plantation is on the national register and so is the dune protected by the park system. now back to the number 666 and the mark of the beast lady, as I have stated above, that in the opera her role was the woman who ask for the head of Saint John the Revelator; as I have said we were very close, we lived together, there was oral sex preformed by beast lady on the young poet.

 she loved what she called "Joy Juice" very much into health,and be mindful of her inner problems prehaps in her wisdom it was the best way to go,my purpose in her life was more than an aristocratic power trip; this is divine spiritual history being recorded here,this is part of my life's greater work called The Holy Book of Wonder, one day the time came for the hidden prophecy to be fulfilled as she herself played in the great opera she herself was writing an opera and living it out;

 I was a part of it,there is a Mark on the forehead of my penis this day from the deliberate bite of The Beast Lady, who would feed me vegetarian sandwiches bananas,almonds, Avocado,and honey in a bowl and would lick the bowl clean and feed me again out of same bowl.I was 24 she was 47 in the year 1982, when I lived with the beach lady she told me nothing of the beach,I left Jacksonville in 1985 lived in Atlanta for six years ,got Beach lady out of my system, it was 11 years after we met before I would see her again on American Beach Not even knowing the connection.she told me I remember that she had a great secret and that she would tell me on her death bed, I afterwards learned why she took back the pile of letters she had wrote to me I did not realize their value at the time.

basically I was captivated and not aware of the larger picture, I was just happy that this woman was on a certain level not really knowing the big picture.so I present to you the side of The American Beach Story that is not public knowledge,and some might get upset with me.and I want those who thought they knew me when I was there,to know that I was a member of the clan before I even knew of American Beach and I was blessed to live there among you a stranger 21 years, and I know many of you are hypocrites who did not like the Beach lady Just like you did not care for me,and we know why...

It was the year 1993 it was an overcast day, my wife more familiar with the area than me decided to take a drive to a place known as American Beach, some 30 miles away where 3000 black people in love with each other would comev each sunday to meet and have fun in the sun.we had just moved back to Jacksonville after spending six years in Atlanta, it was the year 1991 we returned to Jacksonville stopping on Monroe street right of the expressway from 95 going north, Exit 94 moving into a shotgun home and turning it into a folk art gallery it was here I became ‘discovered’ by James “jimmie” Allen (the southren picker)

from the year 1993 we stayed on American beach until year 2014.

The day we were leaving the beach I saw a house at 1821 Lewis Street for rent and I knew I had to move there. I must admit that it was the girl in the white bathing suit I had saw on the beach played a big part in me wanting to move to the beach. From the house it was only a block to the beach, it was a miracle a poor man living that close to the ocean among the rich and famous. As I have said above I will come back and tell this grand story as it come back to me, but here I reveal the fall and the man behind it,and a few other things here...

An in-depth study of the American Beach gentrification plot, and the lost of Historic land,to a government scheme that goes all the way to GeorgeBush white house
this plot spearheaded by black millionaire Tony Brown who was hand picked by bush.

Anatomy of a revolution film 1

                                              film two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

TALK OF THE TOWN: American Beach faces new proposal

By Susan Respess and Derek Kinner

,for years ,American Beach residents have been fighting off encroachment from resorts to the north and south.

Now, three business partners want to bring a resort-like development into the heart of the predominantly African-American seaside community.

Tony Brown, LaWanda Brown and Rosie Hutchison, operating as Savant Real Estate Group and American Beach Properties, are proposing to build a beach club and bed and breakfast facility on the beach at Lewis and Greeg streets.

They plan to remodel the old Evans Bar and make it a semi-private beach club with an amenities center for American Beach homeowners and area residents. The club would feature a swimming pool, cabana baths, a restaurant, bar and terrace.

They also want to change the street design to help with parking and traffic.

While American Beach residents will have use of the facility, the business people also want to market it to people in a 60-mile radius of the community, which would include Jacksonville and Brunswick.

Brown also is heading an effort to form a Community Redevelopment Agency that would study the feasibility of seeking grants to put in water and sewer lines. Many residents oppose the effort, fearing it would make the community even more attractive to resort developers.

Plans to Preserve a Black Beach Enclave in Florida


Published: January 24, 1999



A Jacksonville banker who bought an oceanfront lot in American Beach here last November plans to press for a master plan to stave off encroachment of high-end resorts on either side of an enclave that traces its special character back to the days of segregation.

The banker, Tony T. Brown, a senior vice president at Nationsbank Florida, is seeking to persuade other property owners to create a community development district and a financing plan to upgrade and preserve the neighborhood on the northernmost island off Florida's east coast.

Land purchases for new projects are rare at American Beach, developed in the 30's as a resort for blacks barred from whites-only beach areas, and has retained a feeling of community and cultural identity.

Most of the roads in its 78 acres are unpaved and the community lacks basic sewer and water infrastructure. Still, the property is coveted by high-end resorts to the north and south of it -- Amelia Island Plantation and Summer Beach, which are rapidly using up the last of their oceanfront property in the ongoing construction of condominiums, homes and golf courses. The 18.2-square-mile Amelia Island, of which American Beach is a part, is a 35-minute drive across the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville International Airport. It was a sleepy blue-collar community with a small quiet section of high-priced homes and condominiums at its southern end until the 90's.

Now it is dominated by upscale development. Private planes frequently fly into the island's small airport, where expansion, but not commercial service, is planned.

Mr. Brown bought a 50- by 100-foot parcel on the waterfront from a family trust, paying $89,500. He said he was holding off construction of a vacation home for his family until modern infrastructure is in place -- as are more than a dozen other American Beach property owners.

He said that he also planned to close this Friday on a second lot, where he plans to construct a four-unit apartment buiding. In addition, he said, he is working with longtime residents to create a museum to preserve the enclave's black heritage.

''As a practitioner of redevelopment, I want to practice what I preach,'' he said. At Nationsbank, now a subsidiary of BankAmerica following a merger last year, he oversees the institution's involvement in neighborhood revitalization in Florida.

Among other property owners pressing for a master plan is Michael Stewart, a Bell South regional manager for corporate affairs whose grandfather built a home in American Beach in 1941.

Mr. Stewart and Frank Morgan Jr., a real estate professional whose family owns more than an acre, joined Mr. Brown last month to discuss capital improvements with local officials. ''For long-term viability, infrastructure is a must,'' Mr. Stewart said. ''But it's not the panacea.''

In November, Mr. Brown met with the American Beach Homeowners Association. Of the enclave's 125 lots, about 80 have homes; only 20 have year-round residents.

He found members of the homeowners association wary when he tried to persuade them to endorse his draft proposals for revitalizing the neighborhood. Ultimately such a plan would have to go before the local commissioners of Nassau County, the island's governing entity, for approval.

Mr. Brown's proposal offers several options to finance capital improvements such as sewage and water utilities. Among those discussed have been property-tax increases directed back to the neighborhood and issuance of bonds.

THE homeowners are seeking more details and have invited Mr. Brown back to give them. ''There are people who come along from time to time like Mr. Brown who talk about developing American Beach,'' said Annette Myers, head of the homeowners' association. ''Sometimes you don't know where these people are coming from.''

Mrs. Myers said that residents were concerned about property values rising too high for elderly residents on fixed incomes

American Beach residents have cause for concern, since resort owners and speculators have coveted the property. But so far, with 125 separate property owners and vocal residents determined to keep its historic identity intact, no one has been able to assemble enough for large projects.

Walter Gossett, the Nassau County manager, said that Mr. Brown's goals were realistic. ''It is an ambitious undertaking, but I think it has the potential to succeed,'' Mr. Gossett said. ''It is the best plan I've seen come down the pike. I think it would be a welcome development in Nassau County.''

American Beach was founded in the 30's by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, an insurance magnate who was Florida's first black millionaire. Lewis, who co-founded the Afro-American Insurance Company in Jacksonville in 1901, bought 20 acres in 1935 that became the original American Beach.

He encouraged others to buy lots to create a lively beach getaway for black families. Michael Stewart's grandfather Ralph, for instance, was an actuary with Afro-American Insurance. Over the years, prominent black businessmen bought lots and built homes. At its peak, the enclave comprised 200 acres. But since the 60's the neighborhood has not moved forward. Many homes are vacant and rundown and neighbors want the boarded-up, ramshackle home adjacent to Mr. Brown's lot condemned and torn down.

In contrast to the near standstill at American Beach, the surrounding wealthy resorts are busy expanding. On 83 acres that once was part of American Beach, Amelia Island Plantation is building a 94-home gated golf retirement community, with houses that range in size from 1,500 to 2,056 square feet and in price from $230,000 to $350,000.

The 1,333-acre resort community -- begun in 1974 by the Sea Pines Company, which also developed Hilton Head, S.C. -- also is completing a seven-story, 21-unit luxury condominium. Nine of its 3,300-square-foot units have sold for an average of $900,000.

In a separate project, the resort is building two more seven-story condominiums, called Beach Side Villas, each with 21 units. The first was finished in December; the other will be completed in August. The 2,500-square-foot units are selling at $590,000 on average, and the first building is sold out.

Only a 600-foot oceanfront stretch remains, and that likely will be developed into condominiums, said Norman Bray, executive vice president of real estate development for Amelia Island Plantation. He expects the community to be built out completely by 2002.

''Everything has heated up in the last five years with the strong economy,'' Mr. Bray said.

Just to the north of American Beach the Summer Beach resort is developing the last parcels of its 500-acre community. Seven 14-unit condominium buildings called Carlton Dunes are currently under construction at the northern end of Summer Beach.

The 3,880-square-foot units have been selling for $750,000 to $1.3 million.

while property values are rising quickly on either side, values in American Beach remain relatively low. For instance, while Mr. Brown paid $89,500 for his 50- by 100-foot oceanfront lot, just to the south in Amelia Island Plantation resort, two lots, each 40-by-180 feet, sold last year for $425,000 a each, Mr. Bray said. Three other nearby oceanfront lots, 100 by 215 feet, sold for $1.3 million each. They will be developed with single-family homes.

Mr. Brown does not anticipate values at that level in American Beach, even though some high-priced lots are within walking distance. But he does look at Summer Beach and Amelia Island Plantation with both a touch of envy and a sense of opportunity. ''There's no reason we can't be developed nicely too, and have that type of area here,'' he said.

American Beach Museum

Amelia Island's newest museum celebrates the unique story of American Beach, a residential community established at the beginning of the 20th century that became a place of refuge from segregation and racism for African-Americans from throughout the southeast, including a "who's who" of performers and celebrities. The driving force and source of much of the museum's collection was the late environmentalist, MaVynee Oshun Betsch, the great-granddaughter of one of American Beach's founders. She was popularly known as "the beach lady" and ran the first American Beach museum using her personal collection of materials and an RV. The American Beach Museum is located inside the American Beach Community Center.

American Beach Museum

1600 Julia Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Phone: 904-510-7036

Speaking of MaVynee Betsch:

“A true philanthropist, altruistic in every deed, Betsch embraced and charmed every person she met, enlightening us on the importance of her African American Heritage.”

- Karen Miller, Amelia Islander Magazine

“A woman of substance.”

- Jim and Sidney Tunstall, Emagazine.com

“So many lives she touched did marvel at this world-traveled opera singer who became an activist for a better world.”
- Kyle Meenan, First Coast News

“Her voice is as cultured, worldly and refined as you’d expect a former opera star’s to be.”
- Russ Rymer, Smithsonian Magazine

“More than a leader in preservation in Northeast Florida. She is a recognized leader in preserving land and history in the south.”
- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

“American beach could easily have disappeared – but it didn’t thanks to Betsch and her allies.”
- Michelle Nijhuis, Sierra Magazine

“No trip to American Beach is complete without an audience with the Beach Lady.”
- Drew Stewart, News-Press.com

“MaVynee was a brilliant, eccentric, and colorful figure that promoted, persuaded, lobbied and fought to preserve the public beach.”
- Susan Grandin, Trust for Public Land

“There was no threat to fellowman or Mother Earth with which she did not cross swords and strike telling blows. It behooves all of us Americans to ensure that MaVynee's legacy is kept alive as an inspiration for future generations.”
- Stetson Kennedy, Noted Activist

“[A woman] whose persona is every bit as dramatic as the characters she played in Madame Butterfly and Salome, as an opera star in 1950s Europe.”- Preservation Magazine, August 2005


The Fifth Element (French: Le Cinquième élément) is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed, co-written, and based on a story by Luc Besson. It stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set in the twenty-third century, the film's central plot involves the survival of planet Earth, which becomes the responsibility of Korben Dallas (Willis), a taxicab driver and former special forces major, after a young woman (Jovovich) falls into his cab. Dallas joins forces with her to recover four mystical stones essential for the defence of Earth against an impending attack.

Besson started writing the story that became The Fifth Element when he was 16 years old; he was 38 when the film opened in cinemas. Besson wanted to shoot the film in France but suitable locations could not be found. Instead filming took place in London and Mauritania. Comic book writers Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières, whose comics provided inspiration for parts of the film, were hired for production design. Costume design was by Jean Paul Gaultier.

The Fifth Element received mainly positive reviews, although it tended to polarise critics. It has been called both the best and worst summer blockbuster of all time. The film was a financial success, earning more than $263 million at the box office on a $90 million budget. At the time of its release it was the most expensive European film ever made, and it remained the highest-grossing French film at the box-office until the release of The Intouchables in 2011.


In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their contact, a priest, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in space in the form of a giant ball of black fire and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawan's current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of Earth (Tom Lister, Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans' spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of the fifth element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman known as Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna's possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas' former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During the struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case that he assumes contains the stones, which he takes back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner's occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg's spacecraft.

The four return to the weapon chamber at the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth's orbit.

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