Book Celebrates History of Miami’s Richmond Heights

By: Jodi Mailander Farrell

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Richmond Heights, a community southwest of Miami, was founded in 1949 by Capt. Frank Crawford Martin for black World War II veterans.

Captain Martin, also a veteran, thought developing the neighborhood would be a good business venture but, for a white man in the late 1940s, the venture turned into a tool of social change leading all the way to the White House.    

Richmond Heights became a building standard for black homes and was featured in a 1963 Jet Magazine article as one of the safest black neighborhoods in America.

Images of America: Miami’s Richmond Heights, a new book by the mother-daughter duo Patricia Harper Garrett and Jessica Garrett Modkins, chronicles the Richmond Heights community through historic documents, resolutions and photographs. Its richly-illustrated pages feature 200 vintage images and memories of days gone by.

Through interviews with more than 100 residents, the authors show the significance that this first self-contained black community in the United States has played in the history of Miami and South Florida.

Still a thriving neighborhood today, its original residents were World War II veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, Fortune 500 presidents, doctors, university professors, and many other professionals. It was home to the first black U.S. Postmaster in Florida, the first pool for blacks in Miami and the first form of public transportation into southwest Miami-Dade County.

The book includes a historic ledger with property sales information, as well as accounts about the fight to open Richmond Elementary School, the nostalgic social life of residents during segregation, the water tower that served as a landmark for three decades and President Harry Truman’s involvement in the development.

The book, which came out in December 2013, is available in South Florida bookstores, online retailers and through http://www.MiamisRichmondHeights.com.

More By Jodi Mailander Farrell

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