Miami Jackson holds inaugural Hall of Fame Induction
By Derek Joy
The Miami Jackson High School Alumni Association (MJHSAA) held its inaugural Hall of Fame ceremony in the school’s gymnasium on March 5.
“We welcome you today. We welcome you in the future,” Miami Jackson High School Alumni Association, Inc. told the audience to kick off the induction ceremony for the first 14 members of its Hall of Fame.
More than 350 people attended the fundraising induction ceremony where two of the inductees – Althea E. Tate (1969) and Dr. Fedrick C. Ingram (1991) – provided house raising entertainment beyond that of the music world of the deejays on hand.
The inaugural classes of 14 inductees were chosen from six categories – Athletics, Community Involvement/Public Service, Education, Health Awareness, Political Awareness and Religion.
“It’s so nice to see so many old Generals in the house tonight,” said Miami Jackson Principal Carlos Rios, Jr. “When I say old, I don’t mean age. I mean years since you graduated.
“There’s a lot to be proud of at Miami Jackson. The last four years we have half one of the highest ranked schools in the area. I want Andrew Jackson High School to be a school where learning is first.
“When I came to Miami Jackson four years ago, it had been a D school for the 13 previous years. Now, we’ve been an A school for the last four years,” added Rios.
And, yes, what many out-siders may not know is that Miami Jackson was named after the seventh President of the United States of America, General Andrew Jackson, who won fame in winning the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
“It’s a good thing. We need to showcase our alumni,” said Miami Gardens City Clerk Ronetta Taylor (1972), a city clerk for the Opa Locka, South Miami and first employee/city clerk of the city of Miami Gardens.
The original school was a log cabin elementary school built in 1898 on land donated by L. J. Becker. The three-story high school was built in 1926, second to Miami High and Miami Beach High for Whites, and Booker T. Washington for Blacks.
Tenth grade was added in 1926, 11th and 12thh grades were added in 1939. And in 1962, the demographics changed with the progression of integration resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision in the Brown v. Board (Kansas) Education case on May 17, 1954.
That is when Miami Jackson began absorbing students from the soon to be Booker T. Washington Middle School. Black American students from other then Junior High Schools – Dorsey and Brownsville – were admitted.
“For the alumnus and those of you who work every day to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience to ensure the success of our kids, this is a wonderful experience,” said Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Miami Dade Public Schools vice Chair.
Joining Tate, a retired teacher who made an additional mark as an athlete, track and basketball coach for the Generals, and Ingram, the first Black American President of the united teachers of Dade (UTD), who made his mark as a musician and drum major at Miami Jackson and a band director at several schools, is an impressive list of Generals.
That list includes Jacob “Jake” Caldwell, who led the Generals to the first undefeated (33-0) state championship in Florida history in 1975, Head Football Coach Nelson Guggino (1958) and John Harris, the 1974 Class Valedictorian, who went on to a professional football career with the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
VonCarol Y. Kinchens (19790, city of Miami N.E.T. Administrator and creator of Miami’s Juneteenth Program at the Historic Lyric Theatre, and Miami Dade Public Safety Director, retired, J.D. Patterson (1978).
“I think this is going to show Miami Jackson has a very active Alumni Association working in the best interest of the school and the community. I’m honored to be among my classmates and friend, so humbled to be in the inaugural class,” said Miami Dade County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson (District 3).
Also in education are Eric Jenkins (1969), currently a teacher at Miami Jackson, and Dr. Venita B. Thompson, who served as the school’s activities director for 28 years before she retired.
Dr. Nelson Adams (1970) was selected for the Health Awareness category; Miami Dade County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson (1971) and Florida State Representative Sharon Pritchett (1969) in the Political Awareness category.
In the Religion category, Pastor Dr. Nathaniel Patterson (1969) of New Life Ministries and Overseer Dr. Harriette Wilson-Greene (1973) of Omega Power and Praise Ministry, Inc.
Carol Whitehead-Sutton (1975), who served as the Miami Jackson Alumni Association President from 2000 until her death in 2012, was given the honor of having the scholarship fund named in her honor – the Miami Jackson Generals Carol Whitehead-Sutton Scholarship.
“This is, indeed, a glorious moment in time,” said Pritchett. “Each of us has a civic responsibility to help those who follow us, help them get the opportunity to get an education.
“This is an auspicious fundraising occasion. This is the inaugural induction. Next year there should be twice as many inductees. This is about generations to come.”