MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – In the 1960’s and 70’s schools across America were integrating, ending segregation. But in South Florida it wasn’t happening so quickly.
“There was such a delay in the Dade County School system,” said Paul George, a historian at Miami Dade College. “Again and again and again they delayed the whole process.”
But at Miami Beach Senior High, Principal Dr. Solomon Lichter was getting it done faster. Miami civil rights leader and preservationist Dr. Enid Curtis Pinkney remembers him well. “He believed in all people, during that time, that we were all equal,” said Dr. Pinkney.
Now there’s a move to change the name of Miami Beach Senior High, known to many as Beach High, to something that includes Lichter’s name.
Dr. Pinkney remembers segregation, she thinks adding his name will remind today’s generation of the struggles of people before them.
“The Miami history is lost,” she said. “We don’t seem to have respect. Everybody that comes to Miami thinks that Miami started when they got here and they do not give the proper respect to the people who made it possible for them to be here.”
Doug Jacobs is president of the Miami Beach Senior High Alumni association. Dr. Lichter was principal when he was in school.
“When you hear the slogan “beach is dynamite,” it came from Dr. Lichter,” Jacobs recalls.
Wednesday night, the board voted to support keeping the name the same, saying Beach High is known around the world for its accomplishments and for some of its famous alumni – like journalist Barbara Walters, actor Mickey Rourke, X-men film director Brett Ratner, Fins owner Stephen Ross and Miami Beach city manager Jimmy Morales.
“I’ve been on a plane,” explained Jacobs, “and I said “I’m from Miami Beach,” and they’ve said, “did you go to Beach High?” And these are people who lived in other parts of the country and I said “How did you know that?” And they said they’ve met people from Beach High.”
There will be a public hearing Tuesday April, 29 at 6:30 at the Miami Beach High School Auditorium about the proposed name change. Ultimately, it will be up to the Miami Dade School Board to decide.