Florida Metropolis / Homestead Black Colleges Half 2 of two | information
Community leader and first employee of the First National Bank of Homestead, hired in 1932, Jesse Robinson was a member of the Board of Directors of the Homestead Elementary School Parent Teacher Association and responsible for creating the 23-page program of paid engagement for the ads, that Jesse had asked for. The program provides a snapshot of the Homestead-FloridaCity black community in late 1947 and the companies that supported the community.
Local education pioneers honored for their achievements on that day were:
The late Mrs. Fannie Starr Turner, who was the school’s first headmistress on the same location as AL Lewis Elementary. “The foundation that she laid so nobly years ago is fixed today; and the deep understanding of their sincere, kind help remains in the hearts of all who have known them. “
Mr. Charles G. Turner – Dade County School Board member for eight years and Chairman for six years.
Mr. William J. Geronimo, who was District 9 trustee for approximately sixteen years.
Mr. Frank L. Skill, who was District 0 trustee for approximately 20 years.
District 9 comprised the schools of Homestead-Florida City.
Charles Turner was a law school graduate who spent most of his career in real estate and insurance and serving as an executive with the Redland County Chamber of Commerce. He directed efforts to build Homestead Bayfront Park.
William Geronimo was Florida City Mayor, a commissioner and the Marshal-Elect. He was the backbone of the American Legion Post 43 for years.
Frank Skill was a hardware and wood dealer. He was, among other things, Florida City Commissioner, Homestead Councilman and a member of the Dade County Zoning Appeals Board.
Residents who worked side by side with Fannie Starr Turner were also honored: Ms. Lizzie Melton, Ms. Susie Clark, Mr. and Ms. Mose Griffin, Mr. and Ms. Luther Houston, Mr. Flossie Benton, Ms. Maggie Robinson, Mr. and Ms. Wm. McWesley , Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Alexander and Mr. John Thomas, the first black pioneer in South Dade. Lizzie Melton was a leader of the local Red Cross group during World War I.
Mr. BM Hindman was the school clerk directly responsible for the education of Negroes at the district level.
Speakers were Mr. Stafford Dames, Miami district manager for Afro-American Life Insurance Co., and David H. Dwight, agent director for the company. The company’s local agent, Mrs. Lucile Starks, was mentioned in the program.
A teacher, Mrs. P. Jenkins, played the prelude, Rev. EC Smith St. Paul Baptist Church made the invocation, and PTA President Walter Brown greeted them. Ms. Alma Crawford, a teacher, gave The Occasion and Supervisor of Music at Dade Co. Schools sang a solo, as did Doretha Payne AL Lewis’ special needs teacher. The occasion is still an important element in black community programs.
The 1947 AL Lewis faculty were: Estella M. Williams, Principal, Gertrude Way, Ernestine Jackson, Laura A. O’Bryant, Victoria McPhee, Lois A. Williams, Lucille Crawford, Dorothy Wiggins, Anna D. Williams, Thelma North and Dorothy Matthew. A former Army officer Samuel O’Tanner Cohen was the attendance officer.
In October 1951 the local newspaper printed a drawing of the planned “AL Lewis Elementary School for Negroes”. It was designed by Miami architect William D. Bordeaux and was to consist of an administration department, a library, a cafeteria and fifteen classrooms. The outer walls should be made of masonry, but the construction should be framed with glued laminated timber prefabricated in the factory. This type of construction resulted in a saving in assembly time and a remarkable saving in overall costs. The building was constructed as planned and served the community for many purposes until it was replaced by the current building.
Follow-up articles will examine other organizations, corporations, and individuals important to the black community in 1947.
Bob Jensen is vice president of community liaison for 1st National Bank of South Florida, a retired Navy commander, and president of the Florida Pioneer Museum.