Fort Lauderdale Named 2023 All-America City Hall of Fame Inductee

The National Civic League announced that the City of Fort Lauderdale is the 2023 All-America City Hall of Fame Inductee last month.

After being named an All-America City in 2014, Fort Lauderdale was recognized for its collaborative engagement surrounding the May 2022 establishment of the L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center in the city’s oldest African American community – Historic Sistrunk.

Uniquely situated in Fort Lauderdale’s Northwest District Area, Historic Sistrunk is a residential community comprised of working families, mom and pop small businesses, historic churches, and landmarks. Historic Sistrunk has stood at the center of African American culture and heritage in Fort Lauderdale since the earliest recorded settlers migrated from Georgia, South Carolina, and the Bahamas more than 100 years ago.  Many were railroad workers who settled in shanties along the railroad tracks before the turn of the twentieth century. After the tracks and stations were completed, some found other work and were residents at the time of Fort Lauderdale’s incorporation as a city in 1911.

Sistrunk Boulevard, a main thoroughfare, which spans Historic Sistrunk from its eastern to western boundaries is named in honor of pioneering Black physician, Dr. James Franklin Sistrunk. Dr. Sistrunk and Dr. Von D. Mizell were the founders of Provident Hospital, Broward County’s first Black hospital.

Like elsewhere in the segregated United States, a close-knit Black community emerged to provide living essentials, share values of hard work, integrity and faith, and courageously advocate for full participation for all citizens in the American dream. However, after desegregation, Sistrunk Boulevard steadily declined from the once-vibrant “Main Street” of the city’s black community to a blighted area plagued by crime.

Officials from the City of Fort Lauderdale created the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to revitalize the areas near downtown Fort Lauderdale and Northwest Fort Lauderdale.  The dedicated agency utilizes ear-marked property tax dollars to reinvest in a myriad of projects that reflect the goals and objectives of its Community Redevelopment Plan.

The CRA sought to establish the L.A. Lee YMCA-Mizell Community Center to enhance the area and activity on the commercial corridor.

The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center was created through a collaboration with the YMCA, the City of Fort Lauderdale, and community partners. The YMCA of South Florida sought and received $10 million in funding assistance from the Fort Lauderdale CRA to provide funding towards debt service for the construction and development of the state-of-the-art community center. Due to the CRA’s funding of $10 million the YMCA was successful in obtaining a construction loan to finance the project.

Additionally, Broward College, which leases 10,000 square feet of space in the facility, provides GED and job readiness training and job placement services for residents of the redevelopment area in-demand industry sectors. The YMCA project has also provided numerous pre and post construction jobs. Of these positions approximately 50% are residents of the CRA area.


Since opening in May 2022, the development of the new L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center project has addressed various local issues in the CRA area. The addition of the state-of-the-art community center on Sistrunk Boulevard has eliminated a vacant property on the commercial corridor. The much-needed activity also discourages homelessness, illegal dumping, and criminal activities.

Fort Lauderdale is the sixth Hall of Fame Award Inductee. The National Civic League created the All-America City – Hall of Fame Award in 2019 to celebrate the ongoing work of past All-America Cities. The award recognizes communities that have implemented a community-driven initiative that resulted in significant local impact due to community engagement.