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MaVynee Betsch (1935-2005)

A black-and-white photo of MaVynee Betsch


#BIPOC Voices #Coastal Conservation #Environmental Conservation #Figures in Sustainability #Historical Icons


Taylor Heagler

Known as the “Beach Lady,” MaVynee Betsch is an American environmentalist who spent most of her life advocating for public education on Black history and the environmental importance of protecting the historic beach community in northeastern Florida called “American Beach.” This beach was a safe haven for people of color in the south during the Jim Crow era and in 2001 was given a national historic site plaque. Betsch was the great-granddaughter of beach founder Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who was the first African American millionaire in Florida. After graduating from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Betsch spent 10 years in Europe as an opera singer. She quit her opera career to devote nearly forty years of her life towards conserving Florida’s coastal environment, giving up her entire fortune to support environmental organizations.

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