By Dr. Kitty Oliver, Oral Historian
A friend is expecting visitors this winter - Californians making their first trip to South Florida. She's mapping out an itinerary and asked for my suggestions: Las Olas sightseeing, day trips to the Everglades, a boat trip along the New River; a Hollywood Beach stroll, the scenic drive north through Hillsboro Beach. Spas. Shopping. Water sports. As I went down the list of great sights and attractions here, I wondered, if these were multicultural travelers, how different would the itinerary be? Not much, I decided - but, I would certainly spice the trip up a bit with some special places of interest to the multicultural visitor.
For cultural activities with a Caribbean flair, try the Miramar ArtsPark, and a new round of international cricket matches at the Regional Park in Lauderhill in the coming year; there are also guided tours and jazz at the Old Dilllard Museum in Fort Lauderdale and a visit to the memorial Black beach at John C. Lloyd State Park; drives through historic Black neighborhoods in Deerfield Beach, Dania and Hollywood's Liberia section where some Bahamian architecture and culture still survive; and, of course, special events. These include ethnic celebrations with Ethnocintricity Cultural Arts dancers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1bwUdcJ2Ts&feature=plcp), the Jubilee Dance Theatre and Kwanzaa celebrations at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARL). In addition, the popular Fabulous Forties Exhibit continues at the AARL through January with free Saturday matinees of classic films from the 1930s and ‘40s, some with Black themes, and some Black productions.
In addition to sightseeing, multicultural visitors, who comprise a large share of the individual and social group travel to the area, are also making a big impact on the Broward County community with projects and exchanges with local leaders through a major initiative of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For example, the Washington D.C.-based National Black Child Care Development Institute had its first and largest meeting in Greater Fort Lauderdale this year, focusing on health and education issues nationally and locally. In early 2013, Black journalists in the National Newspaper Publishers Association will meet for mid-winter conferences with political forums around the Presidential Inaugural. The area also is a favorite destination for faith-based tourism. In December, pastors from around the country will preview sites for future conferences and form liaisons with local faith-based and community development leaders.
Also, in December, the historic Black American Tennis Association Coaches Symposium and Junior Development workshop in Fort Lauderdale will bring together renowned players and coaches along with representatives of the U.S. Tennis Association to bridge cultures, work on youth development and develop a site plan for a Fort Lauderdale home for the ATA.
As negotiations proceed for the first Fort Lauderdale visit of the influential Travel Professionals of Color in 2014, on the heels of that multicultural group's 2013 conference in Trinidad, I'm looking to add even more activities to spice up my list of must-do and must-see multicultural activities.