Community educator, advocate honored

A section of road in Ocala has been named Honorary Frank Washington Jr. Street.

Frank Washington Jr. waves to passersby near the sign that was erected after Southwest 7th Street from Southwest 20th Avenue to Southwest 21st Avenue was renamed in his honor by the Ocala City Council. [Andy Fillmore]

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Posted October 11, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore,

If you’re driving on Southwest 7th Street between Southwest 20th and 21st Avenues, you might just get a friendly wave from the road’s new namesake. That section of roadway was designated Honorary Frank Washington Jr. Street by the Ocala city Council on Sept. 19.

Washington, 84, is an Ocala native. He has lived on Southwest 7th Street for 56 years. He draws many waves from friendly neighbors when he’s outside on his property.

Washington served for more than three decades as an educator and administrator with Marion County Public Schools, is a longtime community advocate and longtime active member of Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

“I never expected” the recognition, he said. “(City Councilman) Ire Bethea and my daughter asked me to go to City Hall and I thought someone else was being recognized.”

Ocala City Council meeting records include this staff recommendation for the honorary street designation: “(We) recognize Frank Washington’s contributions to the local education system… he was instrumental in establishing the mentoring program at Howard Middle School and the free breakfast program for public schools.”

“Mr. Washington was also a key player in establishing the Poinciana Heights Homeowners’ Task Force, a neighborhood community group founded in the early 2000s that regularly meets with city staff to discuss and resolve issues in the Poinciana Heights neighborhood,” according to the recommendation.

Angela McCants, president of the task force, added a statement to the council record calling for the designation.

“Mr. Washington’s commitment to the advancement of his community demonstrates great moral character. His tireless efforts for community safety and improvements are honorable. Mr. Washington’s involvement with the Poinciana Heights Homeowners Tasks Force has been essential in ensuring that everyone is aware of the resources available and that we take pride in the community. He was key in getting numerous accomplishments for the Poinciana Heights neighborhood such as: free breakfast for public schools, speed bumps, stop signs etc.,” the statement reads in part.

Signs reflecting the new honorary street name have been set at each end of the street section.

Former student, neighbor and friend Cynthia Graham said Washington is a pillar of the community and is someone people look to for guidance.

Washington’s daughter, Shiyann Washington-Adams, of Belleview, said her dad refers to the roadway as “my street.”

“I can remember as a little girl the community meetings at our house about paving streets. Southwest 7th Street was a dirt road. My parents listened to and helped the people of the community and their hard work paid off,” she said.

Washington-Adams said both of her parents have community legacies. Her mother, the late Barbara Gaskin Washington, was honored by the city of Ocala with the naming of the Barbara Gaskin Washington Adult Activity Center at 210 NW 12th Ave. in her honor.

“I’m very proud of both of my parents,” she said.

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