The Black Archives, founded from the frustration of educator Dorothy Jenkins Fields over 32 years ago has expanded into a major repository of African-American history in South Florida.
It all began with a phone call.
Fields was a librarian in then all-white Myrtle Grove Elementary School and, in preparation for the nation’s Bicentennial celebration, she wanted to teach the children about black history. When she phoned a public librarian to request information, Fields learned all that was available was a folder containing obituaries. She never will forget the librarian’s words.
‘She told me, `I guess that those people didn’t think enough of themselves to write their history,’ ” Fields recalled.
The results of that call was Fields’ inspiration. Among the myriad of things the Archives has brought to light is the history of Miami’s once-thriving “ Overtown Area and the artists who performed at the Lyric Theater there during the era of racial segregation; Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.
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