Black Archives

L-R: Timothy A. Barber, Black Archives executive director; Patricia J. Braynon, Black Archives board chair; Dr. Henri Ford,  dean of University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine; Don Steigman, executive vice president & COO of Jackson Health System; Edwin O’dell, Corporate director of Communication and Partnerships at Jackson Health System; and Humberto F. Ocaño, external communications at Jackson Health System at an exhibit about Black medicine in South Florida.

The newly named dean of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine Dr. Henri Ford was among a group hosted at the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida last month.

On Thursday, June 28, a group including several pioneers in Black medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital administration, the Jackson Centennial Committee and Black Archives board members toured the exhibit, “The Evolution of Miami-Dade’s Black Health Care Community (1896-2018) in Parallel with that of Jackson Hospital’s Centennial (1918-2018),” curated by The Black Archives. The exhibit, which ran from May 20 to June 30, chronicled significant moments in Miami’s Black medical history and highlighted several local Black firsts in the field.

One such historic first is Ford’s appointment as the first Haitian-American dean of the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, making him the first person of African descent to serve in that position. Ford, along with pioneer medical professionals Drs. George Simpson and James Bridges, and nurse Thelma Gibson walked the exhibit and shared stories of their individual journeys.

Timothy A. Barber, the Black Archives’ executive director, found the experience to be a humbling one.

“As a lover of history, I am honored to be among these living legends,” Barber said. “We were able to research the historic moments included in the exhibit within the Black Archives archival holdings. However, to actually hear the personal accounts of struggle and triumph from the people who lived it, is a true blessing.”

The Black Archives was founded in 1977 with a mission to collect, preserve and disseminate the history and culture of Black South Florida from 1896 to the present. In 2014, the organization relocated from the Joseph Caleb Center to the Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown.

“We were excited to present this exhibit on Blacks in health care as the first exhibit since receiving our endowment seed funding from Mr. Garth C. Reeves Sr.,” said Kamila Pritchett, Operations & Programming manager. “We are hoping that this exhibit, along with the wealth of history held in the archives, will inspire the community to join Mr. Reeves in his support the Black Archives, so that we may continue to fulfill our mission and keep stories like these alive.”

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