Community Voices

Black in Time: Miamians contribute to Broward’s past and beyond

Derek T. Davis, Curator, Old Dillard Museum
Derek T. Davis, Curator, Old Dillard Museum

Broward County was formed from portions of Dade and Palm Beach counties in 1915.

Ninety-nine years later, beginning October 2014, a yearlong community-wide celebration recognized the area’s 100 years of progress and accomplishments. The theme of the official centennial celebration is “Broward 100 — Celebrating The Art of The Community.”

Collectively, native Miamian Derek T. Davis and two other longtime Miami residents, Mohamed Hamaludin and Robert Beatty, have participated in Broward’s development for more than a decade. Davis, the curator of the Old Dillard Museum, began his career at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, a branch of the Broward County library system. Prior to that he was the executive director of Miami’s Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida and the Historic Lyric Theater. Hamaludin is a retired editor of the South Florida Times, and Beatty is that paper’s owner and publisher.

During their careers all three worked at South Florida newspapers. Prior to migrating to Broward County, Davis and Hamaludin worked for both the Miami Herald and the Miami Times. While attending Miami Edison Senior High School, Davis was a cub reporter at the Miami Herald. In college he majored in mass communications at Florida Atlantic University and was a Miami Herald intern. At the Miami Times he developed stories on civil rights and cultural personalities.

Hamaludin, a native of Guyana, immigrated to Miami in 1980 to work on the now defunct magazine Caribbean Life & Times. After the magazine closed he moved to New York looking for work, then returned to South Florida. He was hired as editor at the Miami Times and remained for nearly 15 years. He then became an editor at the Miami Herald’s Neighbors section for almost 10 years before moving to the South Florida Times.

According to Hamaludin, “This was a unique job because the South Florida Times covers [the black community] in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and my experience working at the Miami Times was very useful.” Past retirement age, Hamaludin has withdrawn from the rigors of editing a weekly paper. Now that his wife, Enid, has retired they are planning their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016 with family and friends.

Beatty, a Boston College Law School graduate, relocated to Miami in 1979. He became general counsel-Florida at BellSouth Telecommunications. Later he was a law partner at Holland & Knight and Adorno & Yoss and was general counsel/ vice president of public affairs for the Miami Herald. He acquired the South Florida Times in 2007 from the Broward Times, which was established in 1988.

Under Beatty’s leadership, the South Florida Times was transformed into a weekly newspaper redesigned to “Elevate the Dialogue throughout the African Diaspora.” To establish its niche market, the mission of the South Florida Times is “to change the conversation in our communities by providing an in-depth analysis of events that occur anywhere in the world and thereby establish their relevance to the life and culture of our people.”

A recent example was the newspaper’s national reporting of the 2015 National League Conference held in Broward during the county’s centennial. Remembered at that conference were young unarmed men killed in communities across the country.

Beyond Broward County’s centennial celebration, the story of the black experience will continue to be told, particularly through the arts and culture. Following the Miami Broward Junior Carnival, the South Florida Times has advertisements for upcoming events at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, including Emeline Michel and her fusion of pop, jazz blues and traditional Haitian rhythms; Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South African ensemble; Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama, and An Evening with Patti La Belle.

Meanwhile, the county’s historic architecture is also being recognized. Consider the Old Dillard School. Built in 1924, the school, originally called “The Colored School,” was not only the first school constructed for blacks in Broward County, but it is one of the oldest buildings in Fort Lauderdale.

Today, the school, now known as the Old Dillard Museum, 1009 NW Fourth St., Fort Lauderdale, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of being listed on the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places. Now owned by Broward County Public Schools, the museum is open for the public to view the contributions of the black people in South Florida. Visit: www.olddillardmuseum.org or call 754.322.8828.

Planning the Oct. 14 opening of the exhibit honoring the late Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton B. Moore, curator Davis’ vision “is for the Old Dillard Museum to continue to be an inspirational showcase and clearinghouse for the culture and accomplishments of African Americans in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding communities.”

Dorothy Jenkins Fields, PhD, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback to djf@bellsouth.net.

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