“When did Miami Gardens become a predominantly black neighborhood?”
That’s the question a majority of you wanted answered for the latest installment of our Miami Gardens-focused series. So we’re answering it for you today.
The question came to us from reader Stephanie Wong.
The growth of the black population in Miami Gardens happened for a number of reasons but, like most things in Miami history, it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t just happen in the years before the city incorporated.
Miami Gardens is now the third-largest city in Miami-Dade County, with more than 100,000 residents. More than 70 percent of the city’s residents are black.
Before the city became official in 2003 it was comprised of neighborhoods like Carol City, Lake Lucerne, Norwood, and Bunche Park — places that were like miniature cities in their own right.
The area’s housing stock was mostly developed as military housing after World War II and it has remained a mostly suburban area since then. According to Miami historian Marvin Dunn, the area became a natural next place for black residents to relocate as they headed north, and in some cases south, following the economic downturn of areas like Overtown — due to Interstate 95’s devastating impact on that neighborhood.
In his book “Black Miami in the Twentieth Century,” Dunn notes that “the movement of upwardly mobile blacks into newer black areas, such as Richmond Heights and Carol City” was a major shift in growing the black populations in areas that were previously mostly white.
“As the black population continued its growth to the northwest in the 1970s, North County was established north of Opa-Locka. It consists of two contiguous communities, Lake Lucerne (east of Northwest Twenty-Seventh Avenue) and New Liberty City (west of Twenty-Seventh Avenue),” Dunn wrote in his book.
And that lines up with the family history that one of our readers, Monique Hayes, shared as she said that developers began to offer incentives to black teachers and professionals to move to the area and establish their families there in the 1970s and 1980s.
By the 1990s there was enough groundswell from local black leaders, including former County Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson, that they tried to incorporate a city called Destiny but voters in the area opposed the idea.
Eventually the efforts picked up steam again, and by 2003 the city of Miami Gardens became official. Soon after that, another leader who was instrumental in the early incorporation efforts, Shirley Gibson, became the city’s first mayor.