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Broward County’s cultural community shone in May, when friends, community activists, artists, dignitaries; and historians gathered to celebrate the opening of the LA Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center. This former site of Provident Hospital, Broward County’s first black hospital, bravely established in 1938 during segregation, is now located along Fort Lauderdale’s culturally and historically significant Sistrunk Boulevard.

For this location, South Florida artist George Gadson has created an artwork that connects history with the present. first with a plaque commemorating three pioneers of that time and place; and a sculpture that reflects DNA strands towards life, health and faith. The venue also exhibits the works of other local artists Niki Lopez – director of Sankofa’s art project, I Have a Dream Wall Designer; Khaulah Naima Nuruddin, multimedia artist, designer of Word Wall Art; Teepop, Portrait and Mural Artist, Victory on Sistrunk Mural Creator; Kianga Jinaki, textile artist, Ubuntu community quilt maker; Jay ThompsonSet Design Artist, Lines Victory Black Box Theater Façade Creator.

Provident Hospital became the daring result of two African-American doctors, Dr. Von D. Mizell and James Sistrunk, who founded this institution at a time of urgent need for medical attention for African-American patients who were not not accepted in existing hospitals.

A third pioneer, Sylvia Aldridge, washed and treated the injured. Once a maid for white families, Aldridge became one of the city’s first black entrepreneurs, starting an employment agency for black people seeking restaurant, hotel, and domestic work. When they had trouble getting around, she started a taxi service. Shocked by the actions of the white hospital, she set to work raising funds. After two years, with physicians Mizell and Sistrunk at the helm, Provident Hospital opened its doors to the black community.

Appropriately at this location, Sistrunk Boulevard, has over the past decade become a beacon for South Florida’s Black history celebrated and remembered, and includes inspirational landmarks such as the Research Library and Center African American Cultural Center (AARLC) and the Old Dillard Museum. . Gadson has several artworks on this critical hallway at AARLC, Urban League, and a Sistrunk neighborhood park.

The Grand Opening Ceremony of the LA Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center celebrated a state-of-the-art 65,000 square foot facility that features, among other things, numerous works of art and a black box theater named after the original Victory Theater .

YMCA of South Florida President and CEO Sheryl A. Woods said, “We are very proud of our new LA Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center. It’s a one-of-a-kind YMCA, and a dream come true. The Y is especially proud of how we have honored the rich history of Provident Hospital and the community of Sistrunk through the work of George Gadson and other local artists. We not only want to preserve the story, but continue the legacy it started.