Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trailblazer Dr. Mizell served African Americans of Fort Lauderdale, Belle Glade

By Jane Feehan

Dr. Von Delaney Mizell (1910-1973), familiar to many in Fort Lauderdale for providing medical care to his African-American community and establishing the Fort Lauderdale NAACP chapter in 1938, also served as a voice for minorities in Belle Glade, near Lake Okeechobee.

Son of Dania pioneers, Mizell lived in Belle Glade (span unknown to this writer) where his wife, Ida, operated a nursing home. Dr. Mizell served as the home’s physician but also commuted to Fort Lauderdale to practice medicine.

In 1971, reporter Janice Gould of the Palm Beach Post, wrote of a funding controversy swirling about two hospitals - Everglades Memorial and Glades General – in Belle Glade. She interviewed Mizell about the hospitals. He claimed care for the poor there was inferior and substandard to that “received almost anywhere in the U.S.”                                                                                     
Mizell had applied to practice at Glades General once a year from 1962 until he was accepted as staff in 1970 – but not allowed to perform surgery, his specialty. Gould wrote that Mizell's background included studies at the University of Pennsylvania with a residency at Howard University. Other records indicate he also attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Decades before - 1938 - in Fort Lauderdale, Mizell, with Dr. James Franklin Sistrunk, founded Provident Hospital. The facility served the black community until desegregation of Broward General Hospital and other facilities in 1964. Even so, neither doctor is mentioned in the first written history of Fort Lauderdale, Checkered Sunshine (1966). Mizell, according to news accounts (if not the city's first history book) never stopped speaking for those who needed the most help in Fort Lauderdale, or Belle Glade.
Sources:
Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
Great Floridians 2000


Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale African-American history, history of blacks in Fort Lauderdale

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