Civil Rights
YearMonthDayEvent Related
1845March03Florida was admitted to the Union. It was admitted as a slave state, and at the time, almost one half of its 54,447 people were African American.display
1911November A color line was drawn along certain streets throughout Miami. The city's white residents wished to restrict the expansion of areas inhabited by blacks. A year earlier, the 1910 census reported that 42% of the city's residents were black, and at the time, racial conflicts were becoming more common. 
1915April24Father Theodore R. Gibson was born to parents who had immigrated to Miami from the Bahamas. By the early 1960s, he had become rector of the Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. He used his power in the church and the Coconut Grove community to become the most significant leader in Miami's civil rights movement. 
1916  Miami residents voted on Ordinance 199, the "Color Line Ordinance." It did not pass, but through racism and intimidation, whites severely restricted the movements of blacks out of "colored town." 
1917July15A group of whites bombed the Odd Fellows Hall, which was at the time the largest structure found in the city's black community. The guilty parties were never arrested. 
1918  Christian Hospital opened at 1218 NW First Place. It was the first hospital that treated blacks in Miami. 
1921May24The Ku Klux Klan held a parade in honor of their arrival in Miami.display
1933March04Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as President of the United States. Shortly thereafter, 16,000 Miamians received direct financial assistance from one of his "alphabet soup agencies" - the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA). The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) also went to work in Miami in the months that followed. 
1945August01The first ferry traveled to Virginia Key. 
August08Dade County established Virginia Beach as a black-only beach. The Virginia Key beach remained as such for years.display
1952  The Dade County Auditorium was integrated. The change followed world-renowned contralto Marian Anderson's refusal to sing for segregated audiences. 
1959  The City of Miami's schools were desegregated. This took place five years after the United States Supreme Court's ruling on school segregation. 
1960March11The Reverend Edward T. Graham and six other black clergymen attempted a sit-in at the Burdines store in downtown Miami. The police denied them entrance. When a boycott of downtown stores was threatened, city leaders sat down to negotiate a settlement. In April, it was agreed that all stores would open to black customers simultaneously in August later that year. 
August01Six blacks - all CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality) members - were served at several department store lunch counters. While the color barrier was only broken at three stores on this day, it fell elsewhere soon after. 
September Miami's black residents were allowed to use the city's public swimming facilities. In a suit filed by the local NAACP, a United States federal court ruled that desegregation in the city's pools was unconstitutional. 
December20Operation "Pedro Pan" began. These flights from Cuba brought 14,000 children to the United States by 1962. 
1961April01The first major Miami hotel that had previously been segregated admitted blacks. Six black players in town with the Chicago White Sox stayed at the Biscayne Terrace Hotel in downtown Miami. 
June The University of Miami admitted three black students. They were the first to attend the private university. 
1963June Black and white teachers met together at Convention Hall in Miami Beach. This was the first time that both groups joined to discuss professional issues. 
1965  Mary Athalie Range became the first black person to occupy a seat on the Miami City Commission. She was appointed to the position by the mayor after electoral fraud in her race for another seat on the commission, but went on to win two subsequent elections after her appointment. 
October10Fidel Castro opened the port of Camarioca in Cuba. By November 15, 5,000 would depart for Miami. 
December "Freedom flights" from Cuba began to arrive in Miami. These twice a day flights from Varadero, Cuba resulted in over 100,000 Cubans being brought to Miami in one year. 
December12The first group of Haitian refugees arrived in south Florida. They were treated as political refugees and given asylum in the United States. 
1966April11Martin Luther King Jr. visited Miami. He spoke at a rally attended by 1,200 people. 
1968August07A riot took place in Miami's Liberty City. After a rally organized by the Congress of Racial Equality and the Black Panthers, a man with a bumber sticker reading "George Wallace for President" was attacked. Shortly thereafter, a number of youths and other individuals vandalized and looted areas of Liberty City. The violence continued through the night, taking place during the Republican Party convention.display
August08The riot beginning on August 7 continued after City of Miami officials took no action to address the concerns of those rioting in Liberty City. After Miami police opened fire on the crowds, two black men were killed and a black child was wounded. Over the next two days, two more black men were killed by police.display
1970June15The "rotten meat" riot occurred in the section of Miami known as Brownsville. Protesters had been picketing at a white-owned Pic-and-Pay since June 12, when the owners were accused of overpricing poor quality meet and other goods. When police arrived firing tear gas several days later, rioting ensued and continued for three days, extending into Liberty City and some sections of Coconut Grove. 
1972  Father Theodore R. Gibson succeeded Mary Athalie Range on the Miami City Commission. Gibson served until 1981 and never lost an election. 
December A second boatload of Haitian immigrants arrived in south Florida. Over the next several decades, thousands more would follow. At this point in time, the most common way of dealing with Haitian immigrants was to detain them for a short period of time before dropping them off at local black churches. As the U.S. government began extending these detentions, they came under fire for providing Cubans with such a considerably easier road to citizenship than Haitians. 
1973April07Freedom Flights from Cuba to the United States ended. 
1977January18The Dade County Commission passed a human rights ordinance. It protected individuals against discrimination based on sexuality. 
June07Dade County voters repealed the human rights ordinance passed by the county commission less that one half year earlier. The vote came following a fervent anti-gay rights campaign led by Anita Bryant. 
1979December16Arthur McDuffie was brutally beaten by a group of Dade County police officers. He died four days later as a result of the beating. The acquittal of all the officers involved sparked a riot in Miami that caused what came to be known at the "Miami Riot of 1980." 
1980April21The Mariel boatlift from Cuba to the U.S. began as the first boats began to reach Key West. By the end, nearly 140,000 Cubans would be brought to South Florida. 
May17A group of Dade County police officers was acquitted in the beating that left Arthur McDuffie dead the previous December. After the verdict was reached by an all-white Tampa jury, Miami descended into violence and what came to be known as the "Miami Riot of 1980." The riot cost tens of millions of dollars in damage. 
May20The INS detention center on Krome Avenue opened. It had previously been used as a missile base. 
September26The Mariel boatlift ended. 
November04An "English Only" referendum passed in Dade County. 
1981  A Haitian boat traveling to the United States sank just offshore and thirty-three bodies washed up on the shores of South Florida that fall. 
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