Black History Month Is a Lie
As we spend another February celebrating Black History Month, the reality is that many African-Americans in Miami don't know dark-skinned folks were among the first pioneers to settle here. Forget Martin Luther King Jr. and "We Shall Overcome." We have been hoodwinked into believing African-Americans have always been second-class citizens.
The truth is we built this city. We need to know what was taken from us.
Sixty-five percent of Miami's settlers in the early 1900s were from the West Indies. By 1920, the city's 29,571 residents included nearly 5,000 Bahamians, who created historic neighborhoods in West Coconut Grove and Overtown. Fisher Island, the most luxurious, exclusive land in Miami, was first owned by real-estate developer Dana A. Dorsey, South Florida's first African-American millionaire. He sold the property for $100,000 to Carl Fisher, the Indiana industrialist who built Miami Beach into a resort town where black people had to leave by sunset. Miami-Dade opened a school in Dorsey's honor, the D.A. Dorsey Center in Liberty City, in 1970.
But you'd be hard-pressed to find one African-American student in the public school system who knows about Dorsey or that Bahamians were among the city's first inhabitants. We don't understand our place in history because it is not being taught in our schools. There should be a black curriculum, especially at schools in Overtown, Liberty City, and Miami Gardens. Native Americans learned their history and used it to their advantage. That's why so many tribes have been successful building casinos.
If Miami's African-Americans really knew their history, we would elect more fighters to represent us. Instead, we get pushovers who do anything lobbyists like Ron Book tell them to do. Knowing about Dorsey means I or any other black person doesn't have to feel shame or feel out of place playing golf on Fisher Island.
When people look at me like I don't belong there, I can tell them: "A black man owned this spot first."
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.