August 1 – Big Anniversary Concert & Party
Miami’s Historic Virginia Key Beach Park: How It All Began and Its Importance Today
by Dinizulu Gene Tinnie
The Miami Herald of May 10, 1945, carried the following article, under the headline “NO ARRESTS: Negroes Test Beach Rights At Haulover”:
A group of negroes [sic] testing their right to use county owned bathing beaches trooped up to Baker’s haulover area Wednesday afternoon to splash in the surf off the proposed county park. They advised Sheriff Jimmy Sullivan’s office in advance of their intention. White officers, called also by neighboring residents, went to the scene and questioned some of the 50 or 60 bathers but made no attempt to arrest them.
The bathers arrived in a motorcade, stayed about an hour and departed.
Sheriff’s Deputy R.O. Scruggs said he had been told of the negroes’ plans, but had advised that there was no law under which they would be subject to arrest. Judge Henderson, president of the Negro Citizens Service league, said the affair was arranged under the auspices of the league strictly “as a test of our rights.”
“We weren’t arrested, so as far as I know we will be going to the beach from now on,” he commented. “If they arrest us, we will appeal to the courts.” Henderson said negroes have no bathing beach available to them now, and plans for establishing one on Virginia Beach have not shown any progress. He declared Wednesday’s move was not taken with the idea of causing trouble, but only as a step to obtain some bathing beach facilities. Little could the writer of that article at the time realize how much this brief notice revealed about the times or how significant this incident would become in Miami’s history.