Research Guides

Civic and Community Engagement

Introduction to the Guide
Welcome to the Community and Civic Engagement Guide. The University of Miami Libraries' Archives and Special Collections are home to documents, records, photographs, flyers, audiovisual recordings, zines, ephemera, and more that preserve and animate the histories of political activism, social justice movements, organizations, and their community members and leaders in South Florida.

This guide is intended to provide organized access to the archival collections' finding aids, as well as access to additional resources including videos of oral histories, digitized materials, websites, and recordings of past events and exhibitions that document community and civic engagement.  

Subject Specialist

Beatrice Skokan

  • Head of Manuscripts & Archives Management, Curator of Caribbean Collections & Subject Liaison for French and Francophone Studies
  • (305) 284-3580

Katherine Villa

  • Peer Research Consultant / UGrow Fellow 2020-21
  • (305) x
Bob Simms Collection
Documents the life and activities of Robert H. Simms in the black communities in Coconut Grove and Miami and reflects his work with the Community Relations Board and the Defense Race Relations Institute. Mr. Simms developed the Miami Inner-City Minority Experience (MICME) for the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s and led efforts to create and implement the Inner City Marine Project - now known as Mast Academy. With his wife Aubrey Watkins Simms, he was a founding member of the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City and is the father of the first black woman to serve as a judge in Florida, Leah Simms. Access the archival finding aid for this collection here. A selection of materials in this collection have been digitized and may be viewed here
Firefly Zine Collection

Over 2,000 zines donated to the University of Miami Libraries by former residents of the Firefly, a local Miami collective house and important part of Miami's punk rock and activist subcultures. Zines are typically independent and self published booklets popular in underground subcultures. This collection is significant for its materials documenting political beliefs and causes such as anarchism, direct action, women's rights, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights and environmentalism. Access the collection's finding aid here.

Theodore R. Gibson Family Papers
The Theodore R. Gibson Family Papers document the life and work of Reverend Gibson, president of the Miami NAACP in the 1950s and 60s, longtime Miami Commissioner during the 1970s and 1980s, and champion of Black Coconut Grove. The collection also contains materials documenting the civic activities and interests of Reverend Gibson’s wife, Thelma Gibson. Access the archival collection's finding aid here.
Dr. John O. and Marie Faulkner Brown papers
The papers consists of correspondence, photographs, clippings, publications, awards, certificates and medals, speeches and various other materials documenting the life and work of Dr. John O. Brown, first African American Ophthalmologist in Florida and the first African American President of the American Medical Association. Access the collection's finding aid here.
Catalyst Miami Records
Founded in 1995 as the Human Services Coalition by Daniella Levine, Catalyst Miami is a non-profit community activist group. Catalyst seeks to equip the socially disadvantaged with financial and healthcare information, public benefits, and educational and economic opportunities. This collection contains Administrative Files, Initiatives, Conference Materials, Audiovisual Materials, and more, which reveal the social activist nature of the organization and shed light on some of the many accomplishments it has made through the years. Access the collection's finding aid here.
Ruth and Richard Shack Papers
Archive the life of Ruth Shack, a remarkable woman who was elected to her first of three terms as a Dade County Commissioner in 1976. She led the Dade Community Foundation with great distinction for 25 years until her retirement in 2009. Known as the “Kissing Commissioner” for her affectionate demeanor, she was proud to sponsor the Human Rights Ordinance and admired by the Gay Community for her dedication to fighting discrimination. Access the archival finding aid for this collection here.

Women's March Collection
A collection of ephemera, promotional materials, posters, signs, and correspondence pertaining to the Women's March event, which celebrates the struggle of the Women's Suffrage Movement in the United States and promotes education and initiatives in expanding voting rights to all women, regardless of age, race, and income. Access the collection's finding aid here.
Haitian Women of Miami - FANM for Family Action Network Movement

Haitian Women of Miami-Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM) was founded in 1991 to work for the "social and political empowerment" of Haitian women and their families. FANM is an advocacy and social service agency in Little Haiti and serves the needs of low income women and their families as well as victims of abuse, neglect, violence, discrimination and racism.

The records include correspondence, flyers, posters and educational publications as well as photographs of rallies and events from the Haitian Women of Miami.  Scrapbooks and newspapers from Haiti and the diaspora- such as "Le Floridien" and "The Haitian Times"- document political events and ongoing activism of women organizations, immigrant activists as well as local community happenings. The collection also includes substantial documentation of the activism of one of the organization's most notable activists, Marleine Bastien.

Max Rameau Papers
The Max Rameau papers (1992-2010) document his extensive activism for the homeless and the poor within the South Florida communities of the African diaspora and will be of interest to scholars and students of movements such as the Umoja Village, the Scott-Carver Tenant Council, Miami Dade Election Reform and Take Back the Land. The materials document advocacy work on behalf of people displaced from their homes as a result of low income housing policies, gentrification, and the U.S. foreclosure crisis at the beginning of the 21st century. Access the collection's finding aid here. Watch a series of oral history interviews with Max Rameau here.

Erica Dawn Lyle Papers
The Erica Dawn Lyle papers offer a rich history of Miami’s countercultural art and music scenes and grassroots political activity from the 1990’s to the present. Writing under the name Iggy Scam, Lyle has produced a series of classic underground fanzines, called SCAM, that are known internationally in the punk rock scene. Lyle’s writing and archive also provides a fascinating back story and precursor to political activist movements that Miami is now known for, including Take Back The Land. Access the collection archival finding aid here
Julia Dawson Collection
Contains documents and records of Julia Dawson's feminist and legal advocacy in Miami. In 1994, she founded the Miami Clinic Access Project, which organizes pro-choice community activists to defend local abortion clinics. She served on the board of advocacy organizations, including as President for three Florida NOW chapters, on the Board of Directors of the Dade County Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Board of SAVE Dade, which led the fight to successfully pass Miami-Dade County’s LGBTQ-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance and then defeat repeal efforts, and as vice-chair of the ACLU Miami Chapter’s Police Practices Committee (PPC) which was formed in 2011 to investigate police shooting of black men. Access the finding aid for this collection here.
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) Collection
Contains materials about Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), a grassroots organization working for immigrant rights in Florida, including press releases, announcements and events from FLIC's Facebook page (and its linked websites) and pro-immigration ephemera. Access the collection's finding aid here. Watch an interview with FLIC's executive director María Rodriguez here as part of the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Collection, which is also accessible from the "Oral Histories" tab of this guide.
Fonkoze Records
Consists of a family of three organizations: Fonkoze Financial Services (Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze (SFF), S.A.), Fonkoze Foundation (Fondasyon Kole Zepòl) and Fonkoze USA. All are dedicated to providing financial assistance and other support to the Haitian community, in and out of the United States. The records contain an overview of their organization's goals and initiatives over the past two decades, including documents, newsletters, periodicals, clippings, reports, photographs, and audio-visual materials. Access the collection's finding aid here.
Community Justice Project Records
Contain legal cases, research files and trial notebooks from the Miami Community Justice Project, a grassroots organization founded by lawyers Ameena Jaganath, Alana Greer, and Chuck Elsesser, that provides legal support to those fighting for racial and gender equality, fair wages, and affordable housing, and other social justice issues. Access the collection's finding aid here.
StoryCorps-Warmamas Community Archives
The StoryCorps-Warmamas Community Archive (2013-2015) is a collection of interviews with enlisted men and women, veterans, their family and friends, part of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative which serves as a platform to allow military families to share their experiences. Warmamas places a special emphasis on intervieweing women whose children were deployed  to serve in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. As a repository for personal reflections on the ramifications of war, the collection includes individual testimonies and helps to document American history. Access the collection's finding aid here. View the collection of oral history video interviews here
Scott-Carver Housing History Collection
Includes photographs, clippings, reports and oral history interviews that document the advocacy work of Scott Carver Miami residents and activists for the resistitution of the demolished Scott Carver homes. Access the collection's finding aid here. Watch oral history interviews with former residents of the Scott-Carver Housing community here.

Katy Sorenson Papers
The Katy Sorenson papers, including campaign files, scrapbooks and government and other documents relating to Sorenson’s terms as commissioner, document the career of Kathryn “Katy” Sorenson, a former Miami-Dade County Commissioner (District 8) from 1994–2010 who was concerned with human rights, the environment, child welfare and the arts. After leaving the County Commission, Sorenson founded the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami to cultivate strong political leaders in South Florida. Access the collection's finding aid here.
Max Rameau Oral History Interview
Access the interview with Max Rameau, the foremost and most publicly known activist with Take Back the Land. He also leads the Center for Pan-African Development, and has worked extensively with Brothers of the Same Mind and Cop Watch.
Race, Housing, Displacement Oral History Collection
Oral history interview with the María Rodriguez, Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Coalition
Oral history interview with Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of Haitian Women of Miami - FANM
Selection of Oral history Interviews with former residents of the Scott-Carver Housing community
View the entire collection of interviews here.
Click on the images to the right to access the digital version of the 2008 Special Collections exhibit "Bob Simms: An Activist’s Life and Legacy" chronicling the remarkable life of Robert H. Simms, as well as the "The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Experience in Miami" online companion of the Special Collections exhibit that was located in the Otto G. Richter Library at the University of Miami from February to May of 2009.
Archiving the Fringe

Join panelists Erica Lyle and Max Rameau for a discussion on building multicultural, sometimes controversial, and truly representative collections of record for the researchers of today and tomorrow. The University of Miami Libraries Special Collections has begun acquiring the papers of countercultural organizations in South Florida, including those of Erica Lyle and Max Rameau.

Former Miamian Erica Lyle is the author of On The Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of The City. She has been the editor of the influential underground, punk rock magazine, SCAM, since 1991.

Activist Max Rameau is a voice for homeless rights and victims of gentrification in Miami who has been at the forefront of movements such as Take Back the Land and the Scott-Carver Tenant Council which advocate for displaced residents of low income housing and the present day foreclosure crisis.

Food Chains: The Revolution in America’s Fields, directed by Sanjay Rawal
Local farmworkers demanding fair labor practices in farm fields are making meaningful changes in one of the nation’s most critically relied on but historically exploited areas of the labor force. An event at the University of Miami Special Collections on April 22 brought together UM students, faculty, and community members for a screening and discussion of the documentary Food Chains: The Revolution in America’s Fields, directed by Sanjay Rawal. The film documents the activities of a group of farmworkers in Immokalee, southwest Florida, in their fight for living wages and workers’ rights.

Panelists included Will Pestle, an associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, Silvia Pérez, farmworker leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Natali Rodríguez, a national staff member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, engaging in a discussion on the many issues in farm labor described in the documentary, which premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and is gaining national exposure on Netflix streaming. Food Chains is available for checkout at Richter Library as well as via the educational video streaming database, Alexander Street Press, here.
UM Libraries Social Justice Web Collections
This is an archived collection of the websites of grassroots organizations concerned with immigration, poverty, affordable housing, gentrification, environmental justice, and race relations. Advocacy groups include: Catalyst Miami, Community Justice Project, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), the Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 487), Power U Center for Social Change and Take Back the Land.
The collection uses the service Archive-It to preserve web-based content.
Please click the image on the right to be taken to the University of Miami Libraries Social Justice Web Collections page.

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