Black ExperienceD Kevin McNeir

Garth Reeves Sr., A Man of All Seasons and Times

Those familiar with the history of the Black Press, inevitably point to publications and publishers who risked life and limb in efforts to tell “our story,” to illustrate examples of excellence and to promote the greater good of African Americans — both throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.

And with the recent death of Garth Basil Coleridge Reeves Sr. publisher emeritus for one of the nation’s oldest Black newspapers, The Miami Times, reflections from friends and family continue to bare credence to the committed life he led for 100 years.

The Bahamian-born Reeves whose family emigrated to Miami shortly after his birth in 1919, would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps upon the death of family patriarch and founder of The Miami Times, Henry Ethelbert Sigismund Reeves in 1970, taking over as publisher and chief executive officer of the oldest Black-owned publication in the South. And while he enthusiastically embraced his role as a newspaperman, he wore other hats as well including business owner, activist and community leader.

As stated in his obituary and in his own words, Reeves willingly took on the role as an advocate for social change, using the landmark publication as his primary means of communication.

“I believe in bringing the news of [our] community every week in an unbiased sort of way from a Black perspective.”

Certainly, as T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League Greater Miami, Inc., shared during the funeral service for Reeves on Dec. 6 at The Historic St. Agnes Episcopal Church in Miami, “he made the most of the dash — the 100 years of life granted to him while on this earth from his birth to his death.”

Consider that in the year of his birth, 1919, the world and its people would face unprecedented challenges and fears — from the sudden death of President Theodore Roosevelt to race riots in Charleston, South Carolina, Chicago and other parts of the nation, marking what would later be known as Red Summer.

David Lawrence, retired publisher of the Miami Herald, chairman of the Children’s Movement, Florida and longtime close colleague of Reeves, reflected on the unforgettable events that transpired during 1919, including the birth of his dear friend. And while he celebrated the year and the birth, he also expressed disappointment.

“It’s been 100 years since Garth Reeves was born,” he said. “He witnessed so much during his lifetime — so much that we should celebrate. And yet, he also experienced some of the worst parts of the human family — things that should have changed and yet continue. And so, we pick up where he left off. We must follow his example and commitment to making ours a better place to live.”

For reflections from those who knew Reeves well, see the complete story on the NNPA website, nnpa.org, or BlackPressUSA.com.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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