The Luster Is Off Daytona Beach’s Black College Reunion

In 1994 an estimated 125,000 people attended Black College Reunion in Daytona Beach, Florida. But the annual spring break ritual in Daytona Beach, initiated in the mid-1980s by students and alumni of Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M University, appears to have lost its appeal. This year, there were only 10,000 attendees.

While competing events in other cities are one reason for the drop in attendance at Black College Reunion, a major factor is that concerts and other promotional events sponsored by Black Entertainment Television were moved to South Florida.

Also, Black College Reunion always had an uneasy relationship with the city of Daytona Beach. In the early years of the event, many white-owned businesses shut down their establishment during Black College Reunion. There was a heavy police presence and there were many incidents of violence. Although in recent years the Daytona Beach business community has welcomed the black students, many residents of the predominantly white Daytona Beach community are not sad to see the black college students go elsewhere for spring break.