About 70 people last week watched the premiere of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village’s film on Black History on Sanibel. The film was produced by Shawn Holiday of WGCU and features Eugene, Oscar, and Ron Gavin; as well as Jim Jordan, with clips of his mother, Mozella Jordan.
This film will run continuously in the Caretakers’ Cottage at the historical village. There are few buildings that represent the contributions of Sanibel’s black pioneers. This cottage, built to serve the two Mayers’ houses on the bay, both of which are now in the historical village, was like a home to Hannah and Isaiah Gavin for a number of years.
“I used to love visiting with my grandmother,” Eugene Gavin recalled. “Most times my main reason to come was to get funds to take back to the family.”
The caretakers would use the cottage to do some of their chores and to take breaks during the day. Sometimes they would stay overnight if they missed the last ferry or didn’t have the money to pay the fare.
Shawn Holiday, the filmmaker, called the Caretakers’ Cottage “a real rarity” and spoke about the black experience on Sanibel. “Sanibel was unique,” he said. “In 1963, one-quarter of the student body was black, integrated all in one year.” This was a much better result than was achieved throughout the rest of the south, he said. Holiday added that island residents would have integrated years before if the school board had not resisted.
Learn more about Sanibel’s black pioneers at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. The village is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS). Admission is $10 for adults over 18; those under 18 and members are free. Docent-guided tours are available at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at no extra charge, based upon docent availability. There is handicap access to all buildings. For information, call 472-4648 during business hours or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org.