Royal’s African Americans worried that turnpike extension could cut through historic community

Residents of the Royal area of Wildwood came out in force Tuesday night to protest an alternative for extension of the Florida Turnpike that would bisect their community.

They pressed Sumter County commissioners to support a “no build” option for the extension.

Instead, commissioners voted to send a letter to a turnpike official that would not oppose the extension, but make sure it steers clear of Royal.

Royal is an African-American community on Wildwood’s west side that dates back to just after the Civil War when former slaves were given plots of land there. Some of their descendants still live on that land.