Siblings from one of Overtown's first families described Miami's segregationist history to RE's Upper School student body during a Feb. 19 assembly at the Lewis Family Auditorium in honor of Black History Month. Anthony C. Jennings, the author of the Overtown Cookbook and an instructor at Booker T. Washington Senior High, shared remnants of his family's experience dating back to his great-grandfather's arrival to Miami in 1894.
Jennings said his family worked hard to counter overt and covert racism encountered at segregated restaurants, water fountains, hotels and schools. The family’s refuge was Overtown, a center of business and life in Miami once known as "colored town."
"There was a real black infrastructure in Overtown," said Jennings, a graduate of Florida State and Georgetown Law School, noting that the arrival of I-95 through the center of town disturbed that infrastructure. "My family played a major role in Miami from the late 1800s until today."
His sister Patricia Braynon, chair of The Black Archives and former Chief Executive Officer of the Miami-Dade Affordable Housing Foundation, explained her interest in helping to preserve Miami's black history. They were accompanied by Miami Hurricanes defensive end Demetrius Jackson, a Booker T. Washington Senior High graduate who is currently running for a state political office. RE’s Black Student Association President Greg Estime ’19 introduced the campus guests.
The BSA also arranged for an interview with a famous black artist on Feb. 13. RE students assembled in the La Brisa house for a Q and A with Titus Kaphar via a video call, part of an effort to highlight black artists who encourage the world to see through the eyes of people of color. Students were able to query Kaphar on his works, his career and personal motivations as an artist.
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.