In Miami-Dade, very few people can say they empowered people with knowledge, agency and self-worth day in and day out, while also serving as a community watchdog. For the Black community, such a person was Rachel Reeves, the publisher of The Miami Times for the last 25 years, who died the evening of Sept. 12. With more than a hundred people in attendance, her memory was honored during her funeral service a week later at the Historic St. Agnes’ Episcopal Church in Overtown.
Over last weekend, as the news of her death made waves throughout the community, hundreds of people flooded the paper’s Facebook page, paying respects to the Black press icon. The same rang true Thursday, as family, friends, county, city, and school officials, and readers of The Miami Times paid their respects to Rachel and the Reeves family.
Three generations of Reeves’ men looked down at Rachel as the community remembered her legacy. Her grandfather, Harry E. S. Reeves, whose name is etched high atop the walls of the St. Agnes’ church, oversaw the service, as her father, centenarian Garth C. Reeves, and son Garth Basil Reeves sat in the front row mourning their beloved daughter and mother, respectively.
History and Rachel’s place in it was the overarching theme of the service.
Rachel used her pen and the only platform she ever worked for as a tool to empower South Florida’s Black community, said National Newspaper Publishers Association President Benjamin Franklin Chavis.
“Rachel used her pen to lift people, to empower people, to give them a sense of self-worth, dignity, and respect,” Chavis said.
This year, The Miami Times was distinguished by the National Newspaper Publishers Association as the best Black-owned newspaper in the county; Chavis reminded the audience.
“It was the best because of Rachel’s leadership and spirit,” Chavis said.
Miami-Dade County, city of North Miami, and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board crafted proclamations highlighting Rachel’s legacy in South Florida.
“We need to know our history,” said District 2 School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, who reminisced about bringing the newspaper to her schools for teachers and students to read.
“As a principal of Lillie Carmichael Evans Elementary School, we bought The Miami Times every week,” she said, “Why? So, our teachers can thumb through that paper, and teach our children their history.”
She expressed the importance of having a community newspaper chronicle current events that eventually turn into history.
“The Miami Times is responsible for much of what we know if we don't want to read a book,” she said.
She urged the audience to continue to pick up a paper every Wednesday morning, as soon as it comes off the press.
“Not Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. But Wednesday,” she said.
Rachel Reeves was interred at Vista Memorial Gardens in Miami Lakes.