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A photo of stilt walkers interacting with attendees of the during the Goombay Festival in Miami
Stilt walkers interact with festival patrons during Goombay 2022, Miami. The 2024 Goombay Festival is at the heart of the Community Collections Grant project, Documenting Goombay and Little Bahamas of Coconut Grove, of Florida International University. Photo courtesy of Mikeya Brown. Used with permission.

AFC Community Collections Grantee Spotlight: Documenting Goombay and Little Bahamas of Coconut Grove, Miami

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The following is an excerpt of an Of the People blog post by Aarti Mehta-Kroll, co-leader of the 2024 American Folklife Center Community Collections Grant project, Documenting Goombay and Little Bahamas of Coconut Grove. The post is part of the Of the People blog series featuring awardees of the American Folklife Center’s Community Collections Grants program. 

A close up photo of a paper hand fan with the Goombay Festival logo design
A Goombay Festival souvenir fan. Photo courtesy of project co-leader Dr. Valerie Patterson. Used with permission.

Our project will be documenting the annual Goombay Festival that has taken place in Coconut Grove since 1976. To understand the significance of this event, which celebrates the transnational linkages between Miami and the Bahamas, it’s important to know about the history of the neighborhood in which it takes place.

Coconut Grove is the oldest, continuously inhabited area in Miami, predating the establishment of the city of Miami itself. It was founded by an eclectic group of adventurers, homesteaders and Bahamians who were undaunted by the untouched wilderness that characterized the area in late 1800s. The Bahamians were skilled at farming in what at first sight appeared to be unforgiving terrain. Using their knowledge of similar topographies in the Bahamas, they planted fruits, vegetables, and herbs that they brought with them from the islands along with recipes that they later shared with African Americans who migrated from Georgia and the Carolinas. In the 1920s, the Bahamians familiarity with coral rock led to many working as stonemasons who played an essential role in building the city of Coral Gables as well as estates such as Villa Vizcaya.

While Bahamians and Black Americans eventually lived in the communities of Perrine, Overtown, South Miami, and later Richmond Heights, the settlement that includes neighborhoods that connect parts of Coconut Grove and Coral Gables (henceforth “the Grove”) was a focal point of the Black and Bahamian community of Miami […]

Click on over to the Library’s Of the People blog to read more about the Documenting Goombay and Little Bahamas of Coconut Grove project here!

The Community Collections Grants program of the American Folklife Center is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative, which seeks to create new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library of Congress and to add their perspectives to the Library’s collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story. Read more about the 2024 Community Collections Grants recipients here.

Comments (3)

  1. I like this culture ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. This is fantastic and I truly look forward to attending this festival soon! I welcome learning more about the exchanges between the Bahamian and Gullah Geechee communities.

  3. Thank you for the information .

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