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White Sand Black BeachCivil Rights, Public Space, and Miami's Virginia Key$
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Gregory W. Bush

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062648

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062648.001.0001

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Beyond Colored Town

Beyond Colored Town

The Changing Boundaries of Race Relations and African American Community Life in Miami, 1896–1945

Chapter:
(p.41) 2 Beyond Colored Town
Source:
White Sand Black Beach
Author(s):

Gregory W. Bush

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062648.003.0003

This chapter charts the shifting lines of segregation that developed in Miami from its incorporation in 1896 through World War II, reflecting Miami’s complex mosaic of Bahamian immigrants, southern blacks, a small black business class, an expanding though often “moderate” black leadership group, a white booster class that largely ignored black interests, and a uniquely large population of northern tourists and temporary residents. Several black communities were established, most notably in Coconut Grove and Colored Town (later Overtown), with patterns of racial boundaries similar to those in other southern cities. The period surrounding World War I saw intensified racial conflict, in part over residential boundaries as well as tourist related issues. Housing conditions in “Colored Town” remained horrid throughout this period, though the efforts of fervent black nationalists and more moderate black leaders, as well as New Deal policies, led to some developments such as the Liberty Square housing project. Increasing black political clout was reflected in a local election in May 1939, despite intimidation from the KKK, and rising anger by blacks at their lack of civil rights was also displayed during World War II alongside further forms of negotiation between black service organizations and white leaders.

Keywords:   Segregation, Tourists, Coconut Grove, Colored Town, World War II, KKK, Housing, Liberty Square, New Deal

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