The Enduring Legacy of Lincoln Memorial Park

Since 1924, Lincoln Memorial was the resting place for most of the black Americans interred prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1965.  It is a reverent place for most families in the black community throughout Miami-Dade County.  

Historical figures who rest in Lincoln Memorial include:

  • Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry: the first African-American woman to practice law in Dade County and the first African-American woman to serve in the Florida Legislature
  • Father John Culmer: civil rights leader whose work led to the establishment of the Liberty Square housing project
  • Dana Albert Dorsey, real estate mogul who became Miami’s first African-American millionaire
  • Henry S. Reeves: founder of The Miami Times
  • Dr. William Sawyer, one of the first African-American physicians in Miami and founder of Christian Hospital

Miami-Dade landmarks like Gwen-Cherry Park, Culmer Place, D.A. Dorsey House, and Henry E. S. Reeves Elementary carry on the names of these dignitaries. But Lincoln Memorial has the rich history behind all of these names and the hundreds of others who once made Miami their home.

Who Will Protect the Dignity of Lincoln Memorial?

The privately held cemetery no longer has cash reserves. Since all of its burial plots are taken, there is no potential for future income. As a result, the grounds are no longer maintained on a regular basis. Its doors are not consistently open to the relatives of the deceased and to those who wish to learn more about the rich African-American history of Miami-Dade County.

We believe that Miami-Dade County can – and should -- correct the situation by owning it as a historic site. In addition, our local state representatives can obtain state funds from the Florida budget which supports historical sites throughout the state.  If our leaders truly believe that Black Lives Matter, they’ll find a way to secure funds and preserve Lincoln Memorial Park.

We call upon our legislators to:

  1. Build an up-to-date small reception center containing records and locations of those interred.
  2. Research the records and burial plot ownership.
  3. Construct a durable fence around the facility.
  4. A lockable entry gate with regulated, seven day access for the public.
  5. Employ professional landscaping services to maintain the grounds.
  6. Defoliate wild growth and consider AstroTurf or similar material to slow or eliminate weeds.
  7. Paint each grave needing paint.
  8. Repair the D. A. Dorsey monument and other defiled graves.
  9. Create a quiet meditation (prayer) room for visitors.
  10. Establish a community Advisory Committee for implementing and coordinating the above initiatives.