Skip to footer


Did you know that Miami became a city in 1896 when 367 people voted for the city’s charter? Of the 367 people, 162 were Black men. This was well before the 1964 Voting Rights Act, yet without these Black men, Miami would not have had the required number of people to officially establish the city. Once this charter was signed, however, the enforcement of Jim Crow laws resumed until the early 1950s. 

To this day we still have not seen the end of discriminatory practices like those experienced at Miami's founding. Racist laws and decades of suppression and disinvestment have hindered countless Floridians from experiencing the dignified life they deserve.

From a systems level, many of us have lacked equitable access to economic advancement, affordable housing, clean communities, safe neighborhoods, quality education, and more. Communities like Coconut Grove and Overtown, where generations of Black Americans worked to build not only their own livelihoods, but also the foundations of Miami, are being displaced through gentrification, dismantled through destructive infrastructure projects, and disenfranchised through targeted redistricting.


The experiences of those 162 Black Miamians in 1896, and the hundreds of thousands that came before and after them, are of critical value to our American history. The recent bans on Black history studies are directly correlated to white supremacy’s hold on our society, which views the rigorous evaluation and preservation of the Black experience as a threat to the current power dynamic. As Robin D. G. Kelley says, any critical look at this history exposes that “the way the system works now benefits a few at the expense of the many.”  It’s no coincidence then that for a century it was illegal for enslaved or free Black people to learn how to read or write. 

When we do not know our history, we are doomed to repeat it; and these bans only continue limiting the better future we are building for us all.