The Black Affairs Advisory Board began as the county’s Office of Black Affairs. In 1979, community activist and former City of Miami Commissioner M. Athalie Range petitioned Miami-Dade County Commissioners to establish an office that would give Black residents equal access to county services. They granted her request and the Office of Black Affairs was established.
In 1980, the Office of Black Affairs sponsored a four-day community-wide conference “Black Blueprint for the ‘80’s,”out of which evolved the “Coalition of Black Organizations” (COBO) and the Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP), now known as the “Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT). This was truly the beginning of a number of initiatives designed to encourage the economic, educational, health and social welfare of Miami-Dade County’s Black community.
Over the years, several prominent men and women such as Robert Simms, John Due, Purcell Dixon, Reverend Willie Sims, Jr., Marcia Saunders and Leslie Williams have served as Directors for the Office of Black Affairs, all dedicated to promoting the cause of the betterment and inclusion of Black Miami-Dade at every level. They focused on advocating for professionals who had been locked out of public and private sector employment; struggling families who needed help making ends meet; Haitian migrants who needed help navigating a bifurcated system; access to health related services; economic development; and housing. In 2003, Retha Boone-Fye became the Program Director for the Black Affairs Advisory Board.
Several of the board’s current advocacy projects grew out of “Village Dialogues,” with input from community conversations regarding pressing issues that affect the quality of life of Black citizens. Some of those dialogues resulted in events or even policies with far-reaching impacts.
During the Housing Crisis, the Board invited NACA (Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America), for a five-day “Save the Dream” tour at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 2010. As a result, NACA opened a local office in North Miami. In 2012, a Village Dialogue examined the impact of violence on the community and that discussion led to the creation of the Miami-Dade County Coordinated Response Team (MD-CRT) in September 2012. MDC-CRT’s goal is to help residents to either avoid or recover from community trauma by referring residents to a network of partners.
Another Village Dialogue resulted in the “Respect Life!” Initiative, where Black Affairs Advisory Board members proposed that Miami-Dade Public Schools’ police, the Public Defender’s Office and the State Attorney’s office implement a “Civil Citation” program. This project was aimed at reducing the number of juvenile arrests for African American youth who were disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system. The Civil Citation program has grown exponentially and is now implemented throughout the State of Florida.
The Black Affairs Advisory Board also worked with local law enforcement agencies to establish the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Career Fair which seeks to address the need for proper and compassionate policing in our community by exposing young people to the host of opportunities in Police, Fire and Federal Law Enforcement services.
Additionally, the board’s Black Heritage Planning Committee hosts the annual “Pillar Awards” and “Young Pillar Scholarships” where the Board recognizes the many residents who serve the community, often without fanfare, while providing young people scholarships to begin or continue their academic pursuits.
Most recently, the Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board became intricately involved in hosting the “State of Black Miami”, which was created by then Board of County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime in 2016. The intent is to gauge the status of the Black community and report to the Board of County Commissioners regarding conditions and recommendations to address community concerns. A copy of the most recent report is available on this webpage.
The Black Affairs Advisory Board reports to the Miami Dade County Board of Commissioners and is comprised of appointments by each Commissioner and the Board.
The Black Affairs Advisory Board is under the Board of County Commissioners and was created to serve in an advisory capacity to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. Each BAAB member was selected by and represents a Commissioner from each district and serves at the will of that commissioner.
The Black Affairs Advisory Board exists to advocate for the social, economic, political and educational needs of the diverse Black World Community in Miami-Dade County, while advancing the quality of life for these residents in a dedicated and responsive manner.
The annual Pillars Awards recognizes people from the community who often work “behind the scenes” often without intentionally seeking recognition. Young Pillars are selected based on their academic accomplishments and community service.
For further details on the Black Affairs Advisory Board or the Annual Pillars Awards, call (305) 375-4606.
The Office of Community Advocacy is looking for volunteers to serve as liaison between the Advisory Boards and the Miami-Dade County community at large.
All volunteer members must be permanent residents of Miami-Dade County. In addition, members should have demonstrated an interest in the field, activity or sphere covered by the board.
The primary consideration in appointing volunteer members is to provide the board with the needed technical, professional, financial, business or administrative expertise.
Please note: all volunteers must pass a background check, provided by Miami-Dade County.
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