Miamis Black Archives to charge for research access

caines | 11/1/2012, 6 a.m.

By Theo Karantsalis Hit with major funding cuts back in 2009, The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida continued to serve the community on a shoestring budget. But as of Aug. 15, the public must now pay to use the collection located at the Caleb Center in Brownsville. The fee is now $25 per hour and requires a two-hour minimum. Without dedicated funding, the archives are open for research on a fee basis, says Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, the archives founder. Jenkins was awarded honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees from FIU, Barry and UM for her unprecedented research and documentation of Black history. rican history. Closing the doors to our history is not an option, said Renita Holmes, a local activist who plans to return to college to finish her degree. Without free access to the collection, it will be harder us to research local history. Holmes wants the whole community to take a stand to help the archives which has preserved the history of Black Miami for more than 35 years. Meanwhile, the archives want everyone to take a seat. The public can continue to help by becoming financial members of our organization as well as join in with the many of people that have supported our Take Your Seats! campaign, said Timothy A. Barber, executive director of the archives. Barber said that the campaign is an immediate way to help defray costs related to staffing, research and preservation. For a fee ranging from $350 to $1,000 each, the archives plan to inscribe plaques on all 400 seats to help raise money. The archives are working with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who is also based at Caleb Center, as well as the countys cultural affairs department to restore funding. Meanwhile, a few miles to the south, plans to open the renovated, former Lyric Theater in 2013 are on schedule in Overtown. It will be renamed the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Welcome Center Complex.