In an effort to learn more about the people who worked at Vizcaya when it was a private estate more than 100 years ago, the museum is reconnecting with pioneer families and leaders of the historic Black Coconut Grove community.
In February 2020, the Vizcaya Village had the privilege of hosting “A Rich and Forgotten History of Black Coconut Grove.” Held in partnership with the G. W. Carver HS Alumni, it was the first in a series of community discussions designed to explore and share the early history (late 1800s-early 1900s) of the Black Coconut Grove community through the eyes of Black artists, historians, and scholars.
To continue amplifying Black voices, sound bites from this event are being shared on Vizcaya’s social media channels weekly. Catch up on what has been shared below and follow on social media for new installments.
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HAVE A LISTEN
INTRODUCTION | “WE WERE THE FIRST”
Carol Henley, VP of the G. W. Carver High School Alumni Association, talks about the significance of this local high school and the importance of knowing the stories and history of your community.
EPISODIE 1 | LIFE IN COLORED TOWN
What was life like in a segregated Coconut Grove? .
Mrs. Thelma Anderson Gibson is back to share a memory of life as a Black child in “colored town,” as it was known then.
Mrs. Anderson Gibson is a descendant of one of Coconut Grove’s early black pioneers. She is also the granddaughter to one of Vizcaya’s cooks and author of the book “Forbearance … The Life Story of a Coconut Grove Native.”
EPISODE 2 | THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARLES AVENUE
Did you know that Charles Avenue was a cornerstone of the Black Coconut Grove community in its early day? Listen as Mrs. Thelma Anderson Gibson shares her memories with us.
EPISODE 3 | HOW BLACK BAHAMIANS SHAPED A CITY
Black Bahamians brought with them a world of knowledge and experience that proved invaluable to those unfamiliar with Miami’s climate and landscape. Listen as Dr. Fields sites records that credit this community for their expertise and impact.
EPISODE 4 | MAKING A DIFFERENCE: FATHER DAN
Mrs. Thelma Anderson Gibson is back to share the story of her grandfather, Daniel William Anderson, one of the first Black landowners in #CoconutGrove.
Mrs. Anderson Gibson is community leader and author of the book “Forbearance … The Life Story of a Coconut Grove Native.”
EPISODE 5 | BACK TO EVANGELIST STREET
The first Black churches in Coconut Grove were all founded along Evangelist Street. Have a listen as Mrs. Thelma takes us back and shares the importance of this historic portion of the West Grove.
For all the locals, take note that first of these churches — Macedonia Baptist Church — is celebrating its 125th anniversary this Saturday, October 24, 2020!
EPISODE 6 | BAHAMIAN MIGRATION TO THE GROVE
What was it like for Bahamians to migrate to Miami in the early 1900s?
Hear a short piece of the story from Dr. Dorothy Fields, historian and Founder of The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater
EPISODE 7 | WHAT STARTED THE BLACK ARCHIVES
Sometime in the late 1970s, Dr. Dorothy Fields of the Black Archives recalls asking a local librarian why there weren’t more books on the shelves about Black people.
The answer took the breath right out of the audience as she told her story.
Check them out here on IG and learn more on their website @ www.bahlt.org/the-black-archives
EPISODE 8 | E.W.F. Stirrup
E.W.F. Stirrup was a Black, self-made millionaire who resided in Coconut Grove in the first half of the 20th century. We’ve had the pleasure of learning about him from his very own granddaughter. Tonight, Dr. Dorothy Fields of @bahltsoflo shares more about the impact he had on his community, creating homes that other Bahamian families could call their own.
EPISODE 9 | THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIALIZING
Much has changed in the last 50+ years in the way we socialize. Listen as Mrs. Thelma Anderson Gibson shares her memories of Old Fellows Hall in the Black Grove and why they were so important for the children of this community.
CLOSING THOUGHTS | RECORD YOUR STORY
Carol Henley, VP of the G. W. Carver High School Alumni Association, closes the forum with an important thought. For stories to live on and become history, they must be recorded. Keep that in mind as you speak with your elders, community leaders, and other important figures to make sure their stories are not forgotten.
There are countless opportunities to continue learning and exploring Black stories. Here just a few wonderful resources:
- The Black Archives | Connect with the past and explore Black history in Miami
- Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries | Discover stories of struggle, community challenges, and hope for Black Miami in the 20th century. Through a combination of personal papers, books, professional photography, fliers and reports of civil rights activities at this online resource, “The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Experience in Miami”
Make an Impact
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