a Look at South Florida’s Legacy of Segregation – NBC 6 South Florida


South Florida has a legacy of being a part of the segregated South.

A perform of that previous have been “Sunset Cities” – cities or areas which have been “white-only” after darkish. Some say that historical past hangs over as we speak.

Town of Miami Seaside has lengthy been a haven for folks searching for solar, sand, and leisure. However rising up as a Black particular person, Enid Pinkney rarely went. 

“You simply couldn’t go,” Pinkney, a Miami resident, advised NBC 6.

A database at Tougaloo School lists Miami Seaside and Coral Gables as potential “Sunset Cities.” The historian behind the database, James Loewen, went on to element them in a ebook titled “Sunset Cities: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.”  

Native historians Marvin Dunn and Dr. Paul George say many cities with “seashore” of their names have been “Sunset Cities” as a result of Black folks needed to be off the seashore after darkish.  

At occasions, in addition they excluded Jewish folks, Latinos, and anybody thought-about to not be white. 

Pinkney says she remembers visiting her household at work on Miami Seaside however having to depart earlier than night. 

“You’re alleged to be completed together with your job and again over the opposite aspect of city,” Pinkney stated.

Loewen’s analysis suggests “Sunset Cities” weren’t all the time a matter of legislation however have been enforced by means of apply. 

Johnnie R. Turner, a former Tennessee state consultant, talks about her expertise with implicit segregation on buses and public areas even after courts have dominated to desegregate.

Pinkney says she remembers a time in highschool the place she spoke on a neighborhood radio station as a part of an effort to get college students of various races collectively in 1949. A newspaper article from March 4 of that yr, titled “Cross Burned in Gables,” particulars how neighbors burned a cross exterior of the organizer’s residence within the metropolis.

“You recognize, we didn’t sleep for the remainder of the night time, ready for the paper to return out. That bought to be the discuss of the city,” Pinkney stated. 

It’s tough to check metropolis populations over time as a result of the knowledge is collected in another way as we speak.  

Based on the 1950 census, “non-white” folks, the class used on the time, lived in a couple of key areas: Opa-locka, Pompano Seaside, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, principally centered within the Overtown space. 

The info reveals lower than 9% of Coral Gables was thought-about “non-white” in 1950 and simply greater than 1% of individuals in Miami Seaside have been.

A long time later, Black folks nonetheless principally reside in the identical areas.

Based on the 2019 census, the Black inhabitants in Coral Gables is round 4%. Over the previous 5 years, Miami Seaside has hovered between 4% and 6%.

Daniella Pierre went to highschool at Miami Seaside Senior Excessive within the late 90s, bussed in from Opa-locka after the courts dismantled many legal guidelines holding college students from completely different races separate. 

“Let me let you know, once we needed to rise up at four-something within the morning to catch that bus, it was packed. Black college students and Black employees,” Pierre stated. 

Pierre is now the president of the Miami-Dade NAACP and believes the driving issue of segregation as we speak is the shortage of reasonably priced housing. 

Purcell Conway, a civil rights activist who was a part of the “wade-ins” that led to the start of desegregation of St. Augustine Seaside in Florida, speak about his experiences with the violence he confronted at his wade-in and the work that also must be carried out past the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Black persons are on Miami Seaside, however we’re working,” Pierre stated. “We do are available and work within the accommodations. We come and work within the kitchens. We nonetheless try this as we’ve carried out for the reason that early a part of the 60s. That has not modified.”

Pinkney as we speak appears to be like again on when she joined native sympathy marches throughout the civil rights motion and hopes youthful generations are pleased with how far South Florida has come. 

“To see the worth of the neighborhood, with all it has to supply… and be pleased with it,” Pinkney stated. “I believe Miami is a pleasant place, with all of its issues.”

Not each historian agrees Coral Gables matches the standard definition of a “Sunset City.” However they are saying all through the primary half of the twentieth century, Black folks weren’t allowed to purchase property in lots of components of city and many of the metropolis was white-only after darkish.

Martha Pantin, Coral Gables’ Director of Communications, wrote in an e mail that the college’s database is wrong calling town a Sunset City, “if the legislation was not within the books.” 

Pantin additionally factors to the MacFarlane District, one of many areas Black folks may reside throughout the metropolis limits. She says George Merrick, town’s founder, deeded properties there for Black residents to reside who labored within the metropolis. The world is now a historic website. 

Town of Miami Seaside has not responded to our requests for remark or an interview.

The Miami Design Preservation League and the Miami Seaside Conference Authority have detailed extra concerning the Black expertise on Miami Seaside by means of a Visible Memoir undertaking. 


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