MIAMI — The Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board’s Heritage Planning Committee unveiled the 2012 Black History Month Exhibit during a program featuring music, entertainment and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Chairman Joe A. Martinez, along with County Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Jean Monestime, Xavier Suarez and members of the Black Affairs Advisory Board, honored African- American women pioneers in South Florida as part of the ceremonies, which also paid tribute to several women trailblazers in the railroad industry.
Kinad, Inc., the Historical Black Railroaders Society, Inc., artwork by Alan Laird and Miami Jackson Senior High School students along with a display paying homage to the independence of the Dominican Republic are among the items curated that will be available for public viewing Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center lobby.
The ribbon-cutting preceded a monthlong series of events dedicated to celebrating the African-American presence in the United States and beyond. This year’s national theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” is prominently featured in the exhibit.
Among the women honored:
Leome Scavella Culmer. One of the keepers of Miami-Dade’s heritage and culture, she is known to many as the widow of Miami Civil Rights pioneer Father John Edwin Culmer, former Rector of St. Agnes' Episcopal Church. Yet, a pioneer in her own right, she is among Miami-Dade’s leading preservationists and is revered as an educator, historian, writer, archivist and public speaker. Culmer is also defined by her many years of church and community service.
Nancy Dawkins. Best known as one of Miami-Dade County’s premier advocates, her activism has been most effective in service of the needs of children and seniors. Dawkins has harnessed the collective wills of business and professional women and fellow activists to ensure opportunities for progress for all people of Miami-Dade County. The widow of former City of Miami Commissioner Miller Dawkins, she is an educator for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Dorothy Edwards. Known for her achievements as a professional educator, Edwards was among the first women to earn an undergraduate degree in physical education from Florida A&M University. She has applied her skills as a physical education and business teacher, guidance counselor, swimming instructor and as assistant principal at Booker T. Washington High School and Miami Northwestern Senior High. Edwards, who is the widow of the late Oscar Edwards, was inducted into the Florida A&M Sports Hall of Fame.
Dorothy Wallace Graham. One of the community’s foremost innovators, educators and club women, Graham is a trendsetter who overcame considerable challenges to pursue and achieve her early education, and studied at the prestigious Columbia University in New York City. She is married to Edward Wendell Graham and the couple served as professors at Florida A& M College. Upon returning to Miami, Graham taught science at Booker T. Washington, Allapattah Middle and Hialeah Jr. High schools. She is a woman of cultural, spiritual and social achievement.
Dazelle Dean Simpson, M.D. Florida’s first black pediatrician, and the granddaughter of Dade County pioneer E.W.F. Stirrup Sr., Dr. Simpson is a woman of firsts. She was first in her high school class and first in college and medical school. She is the first black person in Florida to achieve a specialist certificate in her field, first black president of the Greater Miami Pediatrics Society, first black member of a medical school board of trustees, and first to create a scholarship fund for Florida’s black healthcare professionals. She continues as a beacon in her profession and remains first among hearts in the community.
For a complete listing of events and activities, visit the Black Affairs Advisory Board’s website, miamidade.gov/baab or call 305-375-4606.
Photo: Commissioner Barbara Jordan