This year’s Black History Month theme brings back many memories for me and many other blacks — especially in the South. The theme is “Civil rights in America” and it marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed job discrimination against racial and ethnic groups, religious minorities and women.
It is amazing that just 50 years ago, I would not have been able to write this column in the Miami Herald. In fact, 50 years ago, even with some secretarial skills, the only decent job I could get was that as a maid. I knew of so many black women college graduates who worked as servants for some of Miami’s richest families. They had degrees in education, but with the segregated schools, there were only so many teaching jobs to be had.
With the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, people like me had a resurgence of hope: a better day for us was on the horizon.
But Miami, like so many other Southern cities, still struggled. Equality was not a nice word to a lot of people. It meant that blacks would be given an equal opportunity at jobs and housing. That’s what it was supposed to mean. Still, gaining equality was something that was hard for blacks to achieve. But the day did come, and things did get better.
Which brings me to this: HistoryMiami, in partnership with the Miami-Dade Public Library System will host two Museum Forums on the Civil Rights Era in Miami. The forums will consist of lectures, panel discussions and symposiums on historical topics relevant to the Miami-Dade community, presented to you by eye witness accounts from the people who lived through those early days of civil rights in Miami.
“The Museum Forum: Civil Rights in Miami” will be from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, at the North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St. in Miami Gardens, and from 2 to 3 p.m. on March 1, at the South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th St. in Cutler Bay.
I will serve as moderator of a panel that will consist of:
• H. T. Smith, civil-rights attorney, professor and founding director of the Trial Advocacy Program at Florida International University’s College of Law.
• Enid Pinkney, founder of the African American Committee of Dade Heritage Trust and Historic Hampton House Community Trust.
• Garth Reeves, Civil Rights activist and publisher emeritus of The Miami Times.
• Thelma Gibson, Civil Rights advocate and founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Dade County.
The forums are designed to provide an opportunity for sharing with the public the memorable events, people and places that have shaped our city. Residents will also have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with these expert witnesses, participants and scholars of that important part of our history.
The forums are free and open to the entire community. For more information about HistoryMiami, the premier cultural institution celebrating Miami's history, go to www.historymiami.org.
Celebrating children of Booker T. alumni
The Booker T. Washington High School Alumni Association will have its annual Orange, Black and White Tea at 4 p.m. Feb. 9, in the school auditorium, followed by a repast in the cafeteria.
The theme of the event is, “The Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree,” and will celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Washingtonians.
The offsprings' accomplishments that have earned the local, state, national or international acclaim or recognition, along with the nominating Washingtonian, will be recognized at the event.
Florida Memorial University will celebrate its annual Homecoming Feb. 2-9 with traditional revelry associated with a homecoming celebration. The university at 15800 NW 42nd Ave. in Miami Gardens, will also use the occasion to boast its cultural, religious, and intellectual events that suit a wide array of people on the campus.
The activities include the Inner Expressions of the Soul, a spoken word showcase at 8 p.m. Monday; a Cultural Pride Carnival at noon Thursday, where students and staff who come from dozens of countries will showcase food dishes from their native lands; the 2014 Greek Step Show and Concert featuring performances by Doug E. Fresh, Melanie Fiona and Rico Love, will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, and on Feb. 8, there will be a midnight alumni reunion gospel concert.
Although most homecoming events are free and open to the public, tickets for the Step Show and Concert are $35 each and may be purchased at the FMU Bursar's Office.
For a calendar of activities, call Shelia Powell Cohen at 305-626-3657 or visit the university's website at: www.fmuniv.edu.
Black Heritage Month at MDC
Miami Dade College will celebrate Black Heritage Month with a month-long calendar of free community and educational activities at all seven campuses and two outreach centers.
Events for this week will include:
• “Understanding the Afro-Caribbean Santeria Religion” with Orlando Horta, from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday in Room 1209 on the Hialeah Campus at 1776 W. 49th St.
Horta will explain the historical perspectives and progression of the Santeria rituals, values, beliefs, and practices from the New World to present day realities with an emphasis on First Amendment rights.
• “Film for Thoughts: Documentary Series” at the Kendall Campus, 11011 SW 104th St. Hosted by Jennifer Diptee, Eydie Gomez and Harold Pencar, the event will be from 9:50 to 11:05 a.m. and from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday ( in room 103 of the Koffee House. The series will present “Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity,” a 57-minute unrated film that was winner of the American Library Association’s 2011 Notable Videos for Adults Award. The film looks at the popularity of hip-hop among America’s white youth.
• “Inaugural Celebration: Iconic,” a dance performance to music by African-American musicians who were vocal during the civil rights movement, to be from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 1261 on the Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. The presentation is hosted by Peter London, NWSA Dance Division.
Watch this space for more events throughout the month.
Author to discuss book on success
Scheck Hillel Community School will present bestselling author Adam Grant as the keynote speaker at its annual event at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, 20350 NE 26th Ave. in North Miami Beach.
Grant, 32, is the author of “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” and is the youngest tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. Based on his own research, Grant’s book is changing the way people look at success.
This year’s annual event will honor Jorge Woldenberg, who served as chairman of Scheck Hillel from 2010-12. This event helps raise money for tuition assistance for students at the Jewish day school.
Tickets to the event are $125 each and are available online at ehillel.org.
‘Gospel Explosion and Soul Food Tasting’
The Eighth Annual Gospel Explosion and Soul Food Tasting at Miami Dade College’s North Campus will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday in the Lehman Theater on the campus at 11380 NW 27th Ave.
The event is in keeping with the campus’ observance of Black History Month and will feature the inspirational talents of local choirs, soloists and praise dancers from South Florida.
Malou C. Harrison, president of the North Campus said the Gospel Explosion “fully represents the spirit of cultural enrichment, community, and fellowship.”
According to a press release from the campus, the Gospel Explosion is a part of the campus’ month-long black History Month celebration that will also include educational, literary and cultural representations of the many contributions of African Americans in the United States and the Diaspora.
The Alpha Gamma Chapter of Eta Phi Beta Sorority invites the community to its Third annual Pre-Valentine's Dance to be at 8 p.m. Friday in the Pearl Harbor Room at the American Legion Post 29, 6445 NE Seventh Ave.
The event benefits the sorority’s scholarship fund. For tickets and more information, call 305-685-8198.
Kids wanted for TV show
This from children’s dance instructor Florene Nichols:
Kid Vision VPK is looking for children ages 4 to 8, who are bright, enthusiastic and willing to take directions and excited about learning, to participate in a virtual field trip adventure shot in South Florida.
Auditions will take place Feb. 6 at WPBT TV-Channel 2, 14901 NE 20th Ave. Reservations are required by email to email@example.com to request an audition time or for any questions.
Space is limited, so apply early. Group audition time is 15 to 30 minutes. Parents are required to stay during the audition time. Participants will need a brief (one paragraph) bio and a 5x7 head shot.