By: Fabiola Fleuranvil
A roof built out of copper, a large bank vault, and all poured concrete with not a single concrete block holding the structure together. Mr. Garth C. Reeves, Sr. is a proud man as he details the design of his cherished Miami Times building in Liberty City that has won international honors for design. “This was the first building built like that back then, and the most expensive building in the area,” shares Mr. Reeves. "It’s the strongest building in this town and where I spend my time when we’ve had hurricanes.”
The iconic Miami Times building has been shuttered for the past few years as it undergoes renovation to once again house the paper in the near future. “There is no way that building is leaving the family. It is award winning and will be there forever,” says Mr. Reeves.
Born out of an urgent need to be a voice for Miami’s black community at a time when racism was rampant, the Miami Times newspaper was started in 1923 by Henry E. S. Reeves, and the Reeves name would ultimately become synonymous with representing, advocating, and fighting for the rights, civil liberties, and interests of South Florida’s black community. Due to segregation at that time, any news about the black community in any of other local newspapers would be minuscule and insignificant and never an in depth story. So the elder Reeves started Miami’s oldest and largest black newspaper to be the watchdog for the black community and ensure that the people weren't being slighted and taken advantage of. Nearly a century later, the paper still operates on a lot of those same principles today.
The elder Reeves passed on the day-to-day operations of the paper to his son Garth after graduating from Florida A&M University in 1940 and being drafted a year later to serve in World War II.
"Our biggest stories in those days were the number of lynchings going on around the country. Imagine that being your main story,” shares Mr. Reeves as he recounts his earlier years running the paper. “We [angered] a lot of people, but we kept the fight."
From desegregating Miami’s pristine beaches and lush golf courses to helping on civil rights issues alongside Reverend Theodore Gibson of Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove and head of the local NAACP at that time, the Miami Times was always there covering the most pressing issues in the black community.
Mr. Reeves shares a memory of walking into a local golf course on a Wednesday with Reverend Gibson knowing that the course was only open to blacks once a week on Mondays and being denied and told to return on Monday when it was open to them. Their response - "deny us officially so that we can file our lawsuit,” and that’s exactly what they did the next day. It took them seven years and the help of Thurgood Marshall, but the landmark decision finally integrated the golf course, and that would soon propel them to fight to integrate the beaches.
The paper would also survive several relocations from its original location on NW 8th Street and 3rd Avenue bordering the edge of Overtown and downtown to the Lowry Building on NW 5th Street and 2nd Avenue, renting office space from D.A. Dorsey on NW 11th Terrace and 3rd Ave, to being displaced when I-95 was built through Overtown and uprooted the residents, forcing them to move north to Liberty City. That would lead the paper to its permanent home in Liberty City that was originally occupied by General Capital.
Today, the paper is run by Garth Reeves, Jr., the great grandson of its founder. “So many generations have grown up with the Miami Times,” says Reeves, Jr., “and we will always have a place in this community as we continue to speak on behalf of the black community.”
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