A History of Black Coconut Grove by Dr. Marvin Dunn


Bahamians harvesting sea turtles on Key Biscayne, 1928. Long before white people arrived in south Florida Bahamians were harvesting sea turtles along the Florida coast.

Bahamian immigrants on Plantation Key 1895. AS economic conditions in the Bahamas worsened in the late 1800s Bahamians began migrating to the Florida Keys. Many were pineapple laborers.

The Peacock Inn was built in 1884 in Coconut Grove by Charles Peacock, a white man from the Bahamas. He began bringging black Bahamians to work in this inn.

These two women were among the first Bahamians who were brought to Coconut Grove to work in the Peacock Inn. One of them is Mariah Brown.

The home of Mariah Brown on Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove is the oldest black home in Miami-Dade County. It still stands.

The Reverend Samuel A. Sampson, the first black minister in Dade County. His daughter, Gertrude Sampson,, was the first black child born in Dade County.

The entire black community of Coconut Grove circa late 1800s taken near the Peacock Inn where some of them worked. Rev Samuel A. Sampson is seated in front.

E.W.F. Stirrup, an early Coconut Grove settler from the Bahamas, was a carpenter. He built and rented homes to many early Bahamian settlers and became the richest black man in Coconut Grove.

Black Miami Stirrup home in Coconut Grove

The Odd Fellows Hall on Charles Avenue is one of the oldest structures in Miami-Dade County. It was the social center of the Black Coconut Grove community.

Typical Bahamian-style homes in Coconut Grove that were occupied by early black Bahamians. Many of these homes have been destroyed through gentrificatiopn.

The Charlotte Jane Memorial Cemetery in Coconut Grove uses above-ground burials which are common in the Bahamas. The cemetery is named for Mrs. Stirrup. Many Stirrups are buried here.

The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Douglas Road in Coconut Grove was established in 1894 and is the oldest black church in Miami-Dade County.

Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove was established in 1901. Many Bahamians were of this faith. The church has alway been painted pink like Christ Church in Nassau.

The Ku Klux Klan riding in Miami in 1923. The Klan kidnapped a black minister named H. H. Higgs of Coconut Grove in 1920 causing a major racial incident. The minister was released and returned .

What became South Bayshore Drive connecting the Coconut Grove community to the new City of Miami which was established in 1896. Blacks used this road to go Overtown, the black section of the new city.

Father Theodore R. Gibson whose roots were Bahamian, became the leader of Christ Episcopal Church and was the second black elected to the Miami City Commission. He was a strong defender of black Miami.

Elizabeth Verrick, a white woman from Coconut Grove, teamed with Gibson to improve housing for the black community.

The Coconut Grove Slum Clearance Committee led by Father Gibson and Elizabeth Verrick was an early effort to deal with poor housing conditions for blacks in Miami. Verrick and Gibson was a powerful team

George Washington Carver Middle School in Coconut Grove was a segregated school covering grades 1 through 12. It is now an A rated magnet school teaching languages.

The Ace Theatre in Coconut Grove was built in 1930 in the art deco style. It was the segregated theatre that served the black community of the Grove. It is located on Grand Avenue.

Frances S. Tucker Elementary School in Coconut Grove served black students of Coconut Grove prior to school desegregation.

Dr. Marvin Dunn in 1972 while working as a school psychologist at Frances S. Tucker Elementary School. It was his first job in Miami before joining the faculty at FIU.

Black Miami in the Twentieth Century

black miami twentieth-century