CRB marks 50 years of building racial bridges

caines | 5/16/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Rabbi recalls tense days of 1955

Schiff, now 83, was one of the leaders that signed the 1963 proclamation of clergy that prompted the formation of the CRB. He says that he and his colleagues held an unequivocal belief in equal rights for all, because of the many injustices that Blacks and other minorities then faced each day. My wife and I first came to Miami in 1955 for our honeymoon, he said. We boarded a bus outside of Burdines Department Store and saw that Blacks were standing in the back even though there were seats in the front. When I told the Blacks they should sit, they laughed. The bus driver said we were now in the South and that Blacks didnt sit in the front. I was starting my ministry and saw that their bathrooms and drinking fountains were marked Black and white. I was determined to do whatever I could to change the insulting and degrading ways that humans were facing in Miami just because of the color of their skin.

Whats next for the CRB?

Priscilla Dames-Barnes, chairperson for the CRBs Black Affairs Committee, says Blacks should know that they have an advocate in the CRB and a place to go when no one else will listen. We cannot solve all of the problems that our community faces, but we are a true resource we link the Black community to the Board of County Commissioners. We tackle many issues: police-involved shootings of Blacks; gang activity in the Black community; and the obvious preferential treatment that other races are given over Blacks. The fact remains that Cubans and Haitians in Miami have better options and get better deals than Blacks. Thats why so many of our children get their college education and decide that coming back home is not to their advantage. I understand why my children didnt want to come back home after getting their degrees. Growth and opportunities as they relate to Blacks come at a very slow pace. So just how far have we come in the last 50 years? Richardson says we still have just as many problems with racism now as we did 50 years ago its just more subtle now. Schiff says we havent come far enough in eradicating racial injustice. We have come a long way in 50 years from a time when a Black man had to sit in a segregated outhouse to a time when a Black man now sits in the White House but we arent there yet, Schiff said. Weve cracked the glass ceiling now our challenge is to break it. For a complete schedule of the conference events go to www.miamidade.gov/crb. or call 305-375-1406. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com