about us

We sponsor community and fundraising events to protect our environment, preserve our history and honor the legacy of MaVynee Oshun Betsch, “The Beach Lady” of American Beach on Amelia Island near Fernandina Beach, FL

Friends of American Beach, Inc. was established around a Mission that read: “Friends of American Beach, Inc. raises funds to promote, preserve, educate and improve the quality of life and protect the environment of Historic American Beach.”  

As the scene of American Beach, Florida, is quickly changing, the Friends of American Beach supports the preserving our beautiful historic beach and neighborhood through community events and fundraising efforts. 

Going forward, we will continue to raise funds, support community events, conserve our NaNa dune system, trees and beach, protect the land tortoises and sea turtles, place historical markers, and promote the rich history of American Beach. Click here to watch a brief video segment about the current conservation efforts of our NaNa dune system.

Preserving History 

American Beach was established in 1935, by the Afro-American Insurance, Company, by its President, Abraham Lincoln Lewis (A.L. Lewis). American Beach was one of the few beaches in the southeast United States accessible to African Americans due to segregation. It soon became a thriving vacation location with more than 10,000 beachgoers a day during peak season, helping develop a community of seasonal businesses and residents.   

 In 2001, the American Beach Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of American Beach, Historic Marker Committee recently received a Historic Marker for “Evans’ Rendezvous” from the State of Florida Division of Historical Resources. This historic building was the main restaurant, club, and a prime attraction for vacationers and performers alike. After relaxing sunny days, the sounds of jazz could be heard up and down American Beach in the evenings. Celebrities like Ray Charles, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, and Joe Louis were among the venue’s headliners enjoying the beachfront atmosphere. 

The Legacy Of “The Beach Lady”

American Beach still exists because of one woman: MaVynee Oshun Betsch, famously known as “The Beach Lady.” With her trademark dreadlocks and long nails, the great-granddaughter of A. L. Lewis left her career as a renowned opera singer to come home and dedicate her life to preserving the legacy of American Beach.

Returning to American Beach in the 1970s to care for her grandfather, MaVynee donated her inheritance to environmental causes. In the decades to follow, she created a museum from her motorhome and gave tours to anyone interested in the area’s deep history. As the community’s prime advocate, protector of the “NaNa” dune system and matriarch until she died in 2005, she had American Beach designated as a historic location and now protected for generations to come.

Learn more about the area’s rich history and “The Beach Lady” at American Beach Museum.


Step Into Wellness at American Beach -FUN WALK! Saturday morning, February 3, 2024. Click here to download PDF registration form.

The Nassau County Council on Aging (NCCOA) has partnered with the Friends of American Beach Healthy Heart Committee to bring a wellness class to the south end of Amelia Island.  A Zumba Gold class will be held at the American Beach Community Center, 1600 Julia Street on Tuesday afternoons from 3:00 – 4:00 PM through Tuesday, March 26th. The class is open to all.  Come on guys and join the ladies for a great workout.  The class is taught by certified instructor Stacey “Sparkle” Vinson.  Sparkle also teaches several wellness and fitness classes at NCCOA’s Fernandina Beach Senior Life Center, 1901 Island Way.  Classes are free for NCCOA members and $5.00 for nonmembers.  For additional information contact, NCCOA at 904-261-0701.


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