Building dedicated in honor of first Black student to integrate Seminole County schools

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Sanford woman, the first African-American to integrate Seminole Junior High School in 1964, now has a building named after her.

A building dedication ceremony was held for Ingrid Burton Nathan at Sanford Middle School on Wednesday.

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As a 14-year-old, Nathan helped integrate Seminole County schools.

“This is a great monument to the long-standing challenges in our community and the efforts of one little girl, one bright girl to make change,” said Amy Pennock, the chair of the SCPS school board.

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Sanford resident Kenneth Bentley has pushed the school board for this moment for years. He said the dedication is long overdue.

“I just took my seat and did my job,” Nathan said. “And the students around me just happen to be white. I just did it. Because my whole life has been around white people.”

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Nathan graduated in the top 10% of her class and was accepted into the National Honor Society.

She came back to Seminole County and taught Spanish for 38 years until she retired in 2009.

Her daughter, Iyana, said to see her mother honored is incredible.

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“It paved the way for so many things to happen that might not happen. And we’re going to continue to fight,” she said. “We’re going to continue to follow her lead. We’re going to continue to follow her courage. She gives me courage.”

Nathan said there is still work to be done.

“We are all Americans,” she said. “And we have enemies inside of this country that want to see our country fall. But if we walk together we can stand. Divided we fall.”

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.