An early personal computer that helped inspire Bill Gates to start Microsoft was created by Henry Edward Roberts, a member of Miami Senior High’s class of 1959.
Before Bucky Dent hit the three-run homer that led the New York Yankees to victory over the Boston Red Sox in a one-game playoff in 1978, he was the shortstop on the Hialeah High baseball team that won the 1969 state title.
And before Sheryl Sandberg was one of the top faces at Facebook, she graced the yearbook at North Miami Beach Senior High, class of 1987.
These are just a few of the noteworthy graduates of Miami-Dade Public Schools, which on Monday celebrates its 125-year history by launching an Alumni Hall of Fame.
Fourteen people made the inaugural cut, including Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com (Palmetto High); Bob Graham, Florida’s 38th governor and former U.S. senator (Miami High); actor Andy Garcia, an Oscar nominee for The Godfather III (Miami Beach High); and four astronauts, including Apollo 16 pilot Thomas Mattingly (Edison High). The inductees’ teachers also will be honored.
“If past is prologue, then the 14 great Miamians we’re honoring Oct. 8th predict great things for our students today and tomorrow,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement. “How can you look at that roster and not say ‘Wow?’ These people are us. They’ve lived on our streets and attended our schools.’’
Judges from the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida, HistoryMiami, Miami-Dade County Public Library, Miami-Dade Sports Commission, Arts for Learning and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau made the picks from 78 nominees.
“We’re very proud,” said Adele Khoury Graham, wife of Graham and a 1956 Edison graduate.
Here is a closer look at six of the inductees:
Dorothy Jenkins Fields
Booker T. Washington Jr./Sr. High, 1960; founder, Black Archives of South Florida.
Thanks to teachers at Booker T. Washington Jr./Sr. High, the youngster from Overtown found herself in a one-on-one interview with Florida’s 33rd governor in his Tallahassee office.
“Mrs. Marian Shannon told my mother I should enroll in journalism,” Fields said. “I had never written anything. I didn’t know why that was necessary. What will I write about?”
Shannon, her high school journalism teacher, encouraged Fields to interview classmates about their concerns. She suggested Fields pose the same question to Leroy Collins, Florida’s governor from 1955 to 1961. Collins answered her questions and promised to give her an audience.
“I was blown away. We got to Tallahassee and the time came for me to go to the governor’s office and Mrs. Shannon said, ‘Your taxi is here.’ I get to the door and she’s not behind me.
“I’m thinking this lady is crazy. No way I can meet the governor of Florida by myself. I walk up the stairs to the Capitol. I gave my name. They said, ‘Governor Collins is waiting for you.’
“It was quite an experience for me. The big thing was that he took the time to meet with me. I was very honored.’’
Fields, 69, credits her years at Booker T. with launching her career as a writer, historian and founder of the Black Archives of South Florida.