Miami News

4 Black Activists that Made Big Contributions to Miami

The changes brought about by black activists of the African American diaspora during the Civil Rights movement in Miami are nothing short of revolutionary

The younger generation may associate black activists with the Black Lives Matter protests that happened in the wake of a televised death of a black person at the hands of a white police officer.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time something of this ilk has happened in the US. Fortunately, the black activists of the African American diaspora haven’t been taking it standing down.

The Civil Rights movement in South Florida saw some of the biggest contributions by black activists to Miami. Here are some of these activists and what they brought to the table.

M. Athalie Range

M. Athalie Range was a Bahamian American civil rights leader and the first African American ever to be appointed as Miami’s city commissioner in 1966. Although her position was fraught with challenges, because a) she was black and b) a woman, she took full advantage of her new role to organize the black diaspora in Miami, changed the school system, parks, and other city services.

Martin Luther King Mural

Garth Reeves

Garth Reeves was a Bahamian American publisher of The Miami Times from 1970 to 1994. However, before assuming that title for Miami’s most major black newspaper, he served in the Second World War. Like Range, Reeves was also a civil rights leader. He would go on to demand the desegregation of parks and beaches successfully. He also utilized the newspaper to talk about discrimination and prejudice and the senseless killings of black people when it was unheard of to opine about these issues through news media.

Theodore Gibson

The Reverend Canon Theodore Gibson was a civil rights protestor and politician who served as a rector for the Christ Episcopal Church at the Grove for the latter half of his life. As a black activist, he’s known for improving the lives of his brethren through several demonstrations.

While serving as president of the Miami chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Gibson supported several demonstrations in and out of Miami for the desegregation of public places, such as stores, lunch counters, restrooms, and other places where black people were blatantly ostracized.

Lawson E. Thomas

Lawson E. Thomas was a civil rights leader and the first black judge in the South since theReconstruction almost 80 years ago to the day he was appointed. As a black activist and an upholder of justice, Thomas made full use of his newfound position of power to advocate for equal rights and accountability for the black community.

He filed lawsuits for equal wages for black teachers and insisted that black people serve on juries, which was unheard of before the Civil Rights movement. Instead of taking the racial bias in stride, Thomas questioned the law and way of life for African Americans at every turn. While he was turned away and spurned at every step, his critique of the American justice system made history for all the good reasons.

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