Daytona Beach, FL - The City of Daytona Beach is set to dedicate a multipurpose field to Norma Bland, a local activist and champion of Daytona Beach's African-American community.
According to an agenda item for the Daytona Beach City Commission's upcoming February 3rd meeting, the request—made by Zone 5 Commissioner Dannette Henry—is to rename a newly renovated field at Derbyshire Park the "Norma J. Bland Football & Soccer Field" in honor of Bland's contributions to the city and its African-American community.
Bland was born in Daytona Beach in 1949 and graduated from the all-black Campbell Senior High School in 1967, just two years before the school ceased operations—a year before Volusia County schools integrated. When Bland was 65, she earned her Associates of Arts degree from Daytona State College before earning her bachelor's degree a year later from the same school. Two years later, Bland earned a master's degree from Bethune-Cookman University and was awarded a second master's degree posthumously since her coursework was already completed before her death.
Bland also had a passion for social activism and was known to help around the community. She was also a member of the Volusia County-Daytona Beach NAACP Executive Committee, served as the Chair of Legal Redress, and founded the Citizens Coalition to Improve Race Relations.
Norma passed away in July 2020 after battling COVID-19. Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood spoke of his connection with Bland following her passing.
"Early on, Norma rode along on two drug operations we ran in two different communities in Daytona Beach. She didn't just stand on the sidelines. She wanted to see how we treated people in different neighborhoods. It was important to her to see for herself that we treated people the same, regardless of their skin color or their station in life," wrote Chitwood. "I always knew Norma would be there to stand up for someone who was wronged."
The Daytona Beach City Commission is slated to meet Wednesday night (February 3rd) at 6 p.m.