Garth Reeves keeps his fighting spirit, 98 isn’t a bad number
By Byler Henry
70 years ago was a time that Black people in Dade County were banned from playing golf or going to certain beaches. Garth Reeves still remembers those times. He led the movement to rid of these obstacles, he still feels the community still has much to do. Reeves is a long time editor of the Miami Times, South Florida’s premier Black newspaper.
“The world is so interesting today. That’s why I wish I could live another 10 years,” “I think it’s going to be quite different from what you see now.” Said Reeves, he was honored Friday afternoon when Miami leaders named a portion of an Overtown street after him. Reeves, publisher emeritus of the weekly newspaper that was started September 1, 1923 by his father said today’s political divisiveness reminds him of the work that was done in the 1940s and 50’s by him and others. Back then Blacks could only play on the golf course on Mondays when the sprinklers were turned on. Blacks were forced to go to Virginia Key Beach, which was known as “colored beach” because they were banned from the county’s White beaches.
There was a staged protest at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne that Reeves was a part of. He and five others put on bathing suits under their business suits and swam for about 15 minutes in the water. Many Blacks started to make their way to beaches across Miami Dade after this statement. Through this action he met U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who helped Reeves and others with their seven-year legal battle to expand golf course access. After spending four years in the army during World War II he returned home to Miami which sparked a drive to fight for change after realizing that there was much work that needs to be done.
Northwest Sixth Street which houses the Historic Lyric Theatre and the Black Archives History and Research Foundation is the street that has Reeve’s name. His father Henry E.S. Reeves was a master printer from the Bahamas; he moved his family to Miami when Reeves was four months old. He initially started printing one page at a time on a small hand press in his Miami home, because he wanted to provide information to the Black community. Garth graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami and Florida A&M University, he also served in the army from 1942-1946. He started his career with the newspaper when he came back to Miami, becoming the chief executive and publisher in 1970. He held that position until 1994, his daughter Rachel Reeves was named publisher and CEO of the paper, a position she still holds.
“ I used to say, I love life so much that when they call my name I’m going kicking and screaming, but now I don’t feel that way anymore,” Reeves said. “I don’t think I’ll have too many more [years] left, but 98 isn’t a bad number.” He has been fighting since he came from World War II, and that fight still remains in him. He will be 99 in February.