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An important conversation: Instruments of Change

Join panelists Ruth Greenfield, Charles Greenfield ’68, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders ’70 and Wendell Graham ’74 for the first Paul Ransom Digital Podium of 2021 on January 13 at 7 p.m. Head of School Penny Townsend will lead a conversation with this illustrious group about the long-term impact of the desegregation efforts led by Ruth Greenfield at her Fine Arts Conservatory, which was featured in the documentary Instruments of Change.

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The documentary chronicled Ruth's efforts to bring music, dance and art to students of all backgrounds at the Fine Arts Conservatory she founded and operated in Liberty City in the 1950s, defying the segregation practices at the time. Ruth’s effort to use the arts to uplift and unite children reverberated throughout Miami for decades, and touched the lives of her sons Charles Greenfield ’68 and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders ’70, as well as retired judge Wendell Graham ’74 – a student at the conservatory who later became the first Black student at Ransom School. 

You may watch the documentary here

Panelists

The Honorable Wendell Graham ’74 
RE alumnus and former trustee

Raised in Miami, Wendell Graham was the first Black student to attend Ransom School. As a Fine Arts Conservatory student training in violin, Wendell became acquainted with Ransom through the Greenfield family. Upon graduating from Ransom School in 1974, he attended Columbia University and the University of Miami School of Law. He joined Janet Reno’s State Attorney’s Office in 1983 and subsequently ran a litigation-oriented practice for six years. After serving as a Miami-Dade Court judge for 24 years, he retired in 2018.

Wendell is a former trustee of Ransom Everglades School and currently serves on the school’s Anti-Racism Task Force. He also serves as a mentor in the Judicial Mentor Program of the Supreme Court of Florida.

Charles Greenfield ’68
RE alumnus 

Charles Greenfield is a Miami-based travel writer who has contributed to Travel + Leisure and regional magazines and newspapers. He was the cultural arts contributor to Artsbeat on WLRN 91.3 FM (South Florida’s NPR affiliate), a producer/writer for WLRN Ch. 17’s Artstreet and a reporter on classical and jazz musicians for the Miami Herald and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Charles taught ESL at the University of Paris XII (Creteil) and wrote arts and culture stories for the International Herald Tribune. When not attempting to practice his Chopin Etude in DFlat, op 25, he can be found searching for mutton snapper on the Reward Fishing Fleet out of Bayside.

Ruth Wolkowsky Greenfield
RE parent of alumni

A gifted musician, composer, concert pianist and devoted teacher for over 60 years, Ruth Wolkowsky Greenfield co-founded Florida’s first interracial school for the arts in 1951. The Fine Arts Conservatory was dedicated to bringing music, dance and art to young black and white students in an integrated environment. In 1961, the conservatory had raised enough money to buy a building in Liberty City that served as its permanent location until it closed in 1978. The conservatory eventually expanded to six branches throughout Miami. 

Ruth also founded the Lunchtime Lively Arts Series, which was initiated in 1972 and hosted by Miami Dade College, where she taught for 32 years. In 2013, director Steve Waxman released a feature documentary, Instruments of Change, about Ruth and her history with the Fine Arts Conservatory. 

Ruth has four children: New York City photographer, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders ’70, Miami cultural critic, Charles D. Greenfield ’68, published clinical social worker, Alice Greenfield '76 and golfer, Frank Greenfield. 

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders ’70
RE alumnus

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders is a Grammy-winning and Emmy-nominated film director. As a photographer, he has achieved critical acclaim photographing world leaders and major cultural figures, including presidents, writers, artists, actors and musicians. Greenfield-Sanders has produced and directed 13 films, including Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart (Grammy Award, 1998), The Black List (NAACP Spirit award, 2008), The Latino List, The Out List, About Face (HBO), The Boomer List, The Women’s List (PBS) and The Trans List (HBO). His most recent film, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, played in theaters worldwide, won the NAACP Image Award and was nominated for three Emmy Awards Greenfield-Sanders’ photographs are in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, The National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Brooklyn Museum. His books have been published by Bulfinch, Atria, Luxury and Powerhouse. He received a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from The American Film Institute. In 2017, he received the Ransom Everglades Founders’ Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the Community.
 
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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.