Florida Residents Fight to Protect One of the Last Historically Black Communities


March 28, 2024

The residents of this tight-knit community are waging a battle against the forces of gentrification and erasure.

A recent feature in Capital B shed light on the plight of Royal, FL, and its residents. According to the article, Royal’s history is as rich and vibrant as the land itself. Established in 1865, the community was built on the dreams and aspirations of formerly enslaved individuals seeking refuge and opportunity in the aftermath of emancipation.

Today, Royal stands as one of the last remaining fortresses of Black homesteading communities in the United States. Its 1,200 residents, many of whom are descendants of the community’s founders, still live on the same 40-acre plots granted to their ancestors under the Homestead Act of 1862. As progress marches forward, Royal finds itself surrounded by the intrusion of more contemporary living.


The fear of development hovers over Royal, threatening to wipe out its past and displace its cherished residents. Plans for highways, housing developments, and industrial projects have put the community on the front lines of a battle for survival. For residents like Beverly Steele, the fight to protect Royal is personal—a matter of preserving her family’s legacy and ensuring a future for generations to come.

The struggle extends beyond physical preservation. At its heart, the fight for Royal is a fight for recognition, respect, and dignity. Despite being one of the last remaining historic Black communities in the nation, Royal remains largely overlooked and marginalized. Its absence from Sumter County’s comprehensive plan is a glaring omission—one that highlights the systemic inequalities and injustices that continue to plague Black communities across America.

In the face of such adversity, the residents of Royal refuse to back down. Armed with a deep sense of pride and an unwavering commitment to their heritage, they are mobilizing to secure the future of their community. They are using every strategy they can–including legal battles and grassroots organizing–leaving no stone unturned in their quest for justice.


As Beverly Steele puts it, “We’re not trying to hurt anyone. We’re not trying to stop development. But in our not trying to hurt our neighbors, we just can’t sit down and let our neighbors hurt us.” In Royal, the spirit of resilience burns bright.

As the battle continues, one thing is clear: the residents of Royal will not go quietly into the night. With hearts united and voices raised, they are determined to protect their home, their heritage, and their future.

Cover photo: Florida Residents Fight to Protect One of the Last Historically Black Communities Credit: Aallyah Wright for Capital B


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