MIAMI (CBSMiami) — On a recent Friday night, members of the Jewish volunteer organization Repair the World are spending Shabbat learning about Miami’s black history.
They paid a visit to the Historic Black Police Precinct and Museum in Overtown.
Miami’s first black Police Chief Clarence Dickson was there to greet the group.
“Members of the Jewish community supported us in the civil rights struggle,” Dickson said. “I hope we returned the favor.”
The first black patrolmen in Miami were only allowed to patrol black areas, including Overtown, Coconut Grove and Liberty City, on foot or bicycle.
Black prisoners were taken to the so-called Negro Police Precinct in Overtown, where they were kept in small holding cells while they awaited a bail hearing in a small courtroom. The defendants appeared before judges who were either black or Jewish.
“There were five Jewish judges that served and put their credentials on the line,” said Terrance Cribbs, executive director of the museum. “We are hosting the Repair the World members as a way to say thank you for helping to spread peace and unity.”
For the Jewish members of Repair the World, the visit was an eye-opener that shed light on a dark part of Miami’s past.
“We are extremely pleased and excited to be here,” said Janu Mendel, a member of Repair the World. “We are especially excited because of the history of the Jewish judges and the role Jews played in the civil rights movement.”
The Jewish visitors celebrated with traditional Jewish prayers and Shabbat meal. It was a Friday night spent having a conversation about actions taken in the past and contributions that can be made in the future.
“The goal is for people to walk away from this visit with a better understanding of our history,” said Julia Schantz, of Repair the World. “We can all make a difference and have the power to change things here in Miami.”