As a self-described “Miami girl” who was born and raised in Miami-Dade County, Nadege Green has always taken an interest in local history. But she often found a discrepancy between the recorded histories of the region’s white and Black residents.
“If you learn about Henry Flagler and Julia Tuttle, you should also learn about Jessie Trice, a pioneering Black nurse from Miami, and you should know Dana Dorsey, the Black man who once owned Fisher Island on Miami Beach,” Green says. “We have never really done a great job of teaching local history. It’s why people in Miami know about the Montgomery Bus Boycott but can’t really speak to what it was like to desegregate Miami-Dade Transit.”
Utilizing her skills as a journalist, researcher, and storyteller, Green launched blackmiamidade.com in February 2019, a history and storytelling platform highlighting the contributions and existence of the county’s Black past. Green has compiled scores of articles, timelines, maps, videos, audio files, and books, posting them online for anyone looking to learn about parts of the city’s past that are often not mentioned or perhaps even forgotten.
“I remember feeling frustrated about how hard or difficult it was to digitally find Miami’s Black history,” Green says. “I [decided to] make it because it’s something that I care about and that I want other people to know about. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, it’s that people don’t know where to find it.”
At the center of the project is the site’s Instagram account, @blackmiamidade, which shares images of Black life in Miami dating back to the late 1800s with its nearly 16,000 followers. You’ll find some of the biggest moments in Miami-Dade’s history—from Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) defeating Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964 to the “wade-in” protests at Baker’s Haulover Beach that lead to Virginia Key Beach being designated as a “colored beach” for Black residents. Then there are the celebrity stories, including Tupac Shakur signing autographs in North Miami in 1994, a photo of rapper Katrina “Trina” Taylor from her days as a student at Miami Northwestern High School, and even snippets of performances by R&B singer-songwriter (and Miami native) Betty Wright. But most posts feature regular folks living their daily lives—whether they be a family posing in front of their home, children playing together, or a student beaming with her county spelling bee trophy.
“I like visualizing Black people in Miami’s history in sweetness and in joy, seeing Black glamour and Black performers, and just seeing the mundane,” Green says. “I’m really obsessed with beauty. I think Black people are beautiful, and I think rendering us visible is important in this place.”
To find the photos, videos, and stories she posts, Green scours academic databases, old newspaper archives, and eBay, looking to uncover and even buy back pieces of Miami’s history from third-party sellers as far away as Tennessee and England. “It’s like a treasure hunt,” she explains. “Repatriating these images back to Miami is important.”
For Green, it’s all about what she calls “the democratization of information,” which means everything she posts is always available for free, accompanied by written explanations that are conversational and accessible.
To make history applicable to the city’s youngest residents (and those without internet access), Green commissioned coloring book pages of important moments in Miami’s Black history, including a page dedicated to Christian Hospital, Miami’s first Black hospital, and another of Silas Austin, a Black man who was the first name listed on the City of Miami’s charter in 1896.
“Many of the books that are written about Miami Black history are more academic text, so they’re like college-level reading [and] not for younger readers,” Green says. “If we’re democratizing information, that means also acknowledging that everyone does not have digital access freely in the same way. Even if you have a cell phone that doesn’t mean you have a cell phone plan that allows unlimited streaming.”
Green is currently working on creating zines about Miami’s Black history, which she plans to post on the Black Miami-Dade website for free, and is curating an exhibition about Miami’s Black LGBTQ+ history titled “Give Them Their Flowers,” which will debut at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in March.
“It really takes a village, and I’ve always had a beautiful village of Black people in Miami who have been a part of my life,” Green says. “For me, this is a love offering back to the community that I have absolutely felt loved in.”