Eminent Domain Used for Urban Removal in Miami

“Officers began combing the four blocks between NW 46th and 48th streets, from NW 12th to 14th avenues, knocking on doors. In a frenzied two hours, during which the rains began falling heavily, officers carried out a court-ordered writ of possession, legally authorizing the execution of eminent domain… By 1:p.m., officers had forcibly evicted thirty-five […]

A Father’s Advice on Race

“Perhaps realizing the substance of his legacy, William [Sawyer] did not pass without giving his son Bill, principal heir to his fortune, a last important lesson. ‘When my daddy was dying,’ the younger Sawyer recalled, ‘ he had me come in and gave me a long talk. He said, ‘Bill, try to be careful as […]

Another Must Read for Any Serious Fan of Florida’s Black History

By Douglas C. Lyons I remember my grandfather, James H. Lark, a religious industrious man who believed in both God and the ownership of land. He was very passionate about both. An evangelist who became a Mennonite bishop and a proud property owner, buying land was tantamount to success, particularly for a Negro making his […]

Chicago Had Nothing on Miami’s “Black Artillery”

Chicago politics has nothing on Florida’s. Seriously! One of America’s earliest “black political machines” dates back to the 1896 incorporation of Miami. Back then, white business interests used black voters to help pass coveted development projects, and no one took better advantage of the process than Florida’s famed uber-developer, Henry Flagler. A one-time foreman for […]

Anniversary of a Miami Riot

  “On January 16, 1989, after ceremonies commemorating the birth of the late Martin Luther King Jr., violence again engulfed Miami. That evening a police officer shot and killed a young black motorcyclist being pursued for speeding; and a passenger on the motorcycle was fatally injured when the machine collided with an automobile. The bloodshed, […]

New Deal Housing Not Exactly a Good Deal for Black Property Owners

  “As in other corners of the country, the Miami Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was responsible for drafting “Security Maps,” which, through property appraisal, determined which communities represented safe investments for FHA financing and other types of lending. HOLC staffers gave every neighborhood in South Florida a letter grade and accompanying color: ‘A’ neighborhoods […]

Is Miami a Good Place to Be Black?

“Back in 1982, when the Economist reported that ‘Miami is not a good city in which to be black,’ the local Chamber of Commerce reacted with anger and amazement. But the truth is that Florida, including Miami, seldom if ever has been a good place to be black.” Source: City of the Future ¬†by T.D. […]

A Checkers Speech and A Chance to Get Ahead

In 1908, William B. Sawyer arrived in Miami. A physician who became a wealthy landlord, a hotel owner and a crusader against tuberculosis in South Florida, Sawyer often offered sage advice over one of his favorite pastimes — checkers. “In his more quiet moments, Sawyer enjoyed passing the time playing checkers with other men on […]

When Shotgun Shacks Were the Norm in South Florida

  “In 1947, wooden shotgun shacks still made up nearly 80 percent of all the homes in [Miami’s] Colored Town. Other kinds of wood construction continued to house black folk through Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.” Source: A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Making of Jim Crow South Florida by N.D.B. Connolly ¬†University […]