Margaret McQueen was a lifelong advocate for residents of the Beaches community and the first African American elected to the Jacksonville Beach City Council. She was born February 5, 1940, in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. In 1958, McQueen moved to Indiana where she started a family and returned to the Beaches area in 1969. Newly divorced and the mother of four, McQueen enrolled at the University of North Florida and graduated in 1974 with a degree in education. As a mother and second grade teacher at Seabreeze Elementary School, McQueen saw the issues of drugs, crime, and poverty eroding the Beaches neighborhoods. In 1989, she lead the Jacksonville Beach Community Action Co-op to address community issues of crime and to further increase the cooperative partnership between citizens and police.
In 1991, at the age of 51, McQueen ran for the District 1 City Council seat. The election included the first ever district voting, which divided voters into geographic districts to choose their candidates. The District 1 City Council seat included the central and northeast sections of Jacksonville Beach, encompassing the same area where McQueen lived and raised her family. McQueen became the first African American elected to the Jacksonville Beach City Council on November 5, 1991, thus marking a historic moment for the Beaches community. She diligently served on the City Council from 1991 through 1994 and again in 1998. During that time, she saw the needs of the community improved. On June 29, 2013, McQueen passed away at the age of 73.
The legacy of McQueen included the positive change one woman brought to her community through her efforts of grassroots organizing and civic engagement. She brought equal representation to her district and stood firm in her convictions for the belief in the greater good not just of her community, but for all the surrounding communities of the Beaches. She strove to make the Beaches a better place to live and spearheaded the volunteerism of both blacks and whites. The Beaches community is forever grateful for the contributions and leadership of women such as Margaret McQueen.
Text from Spring 2016 Spotlight Exhibit
Author: Allison Gordon, Intern with Beaches Area Historical Society, Spring 2016