Dorothy Jenkins Fields: Yearbook a testament to college's Jim Crow era

Roundup: Talking About History

[Dorothy Jenkins Fields, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback, questions or news to]

Primary sources are original materials that enable the historian to discover what actually happened. More than 30 years ago, my interest in local black history began with a search for original photographs, letters, documents, oral history tape recordings and other material created first-hand by individuals and groups during Miami's Jim Crow era.

Original material was brought out of long-forgotten boxes, cupboards, garages and memory. Through photographs, text and voice, the people began telling the story themselves.

Recently, a college yearbook came to my attention. It was published before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. The Falcon 1962, Vol. 1 was produced by students of what was then Dade County Junior College. The college opened in 1960 with two campuses, one for white students, located at Miami Central High School, and one for black students, located at Miami Northwestern High School. College president Kenneth Rast Williams administered both campuses from his Central Center office.

The dean of the white campus at Central was white educator Jack R. Netcher. The dean of the black campus at Northwestern was black educator David H. Dobbs Sr.

In 1960, when Professor Dobbs became dean at the Northwestern Center, he had already distinguished himself. A Floridian, he was born in Leesburg and grew up in Clearwater. He received his B.S. from Florida A&M University, then called Florida A&M College, and earned a master's from Columbia University, with further study at the University of Miami and the University of Florida....

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