Celebrating Black History Month
Celebrating Black History Month
February is "Black History Month" and here in Palmetto Bay, we want to acknowledge the significant contributions that notable black leaders have made in our community. Read their stories below.
About Black History Month
Each year since 1976, Black History Month is celebrated nationally in the United States. It is a time for acknowledging the achievements by African Americans and recognizing their central role in shaping US history. The event was inspired out of "Negro History Week" in 1926, an idea of Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. The second week in February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. By the 1960s, "Negro History Week" had evolved into Black History Month. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
Former Village Manager, Ron E. Williams
Ron Williams was the longest-serving Village Manager for Palmetto Bay, but his connection with the city goes back much further than that. Ron moved to the future site of Palmetto Bay in the 1970s, long before it was incorporated. He served as the Village’s fist Public Works Director for four years before becoming its second Village Manager, a post he held for eight years before he retired from the position. Those early days were challenging times as Ron focused hard on accomplishing the goals of Palmetto Bay’s founders.
“A lot of that centered around infrastructure,” Ron says. “Financial stability, building a good team of employees, developing good relations with the Council, and at some point drawing the line between policy and administration. But it was a high priority to establish a firm foundation, and I think we did that.”
Ron’s previous experience as Assistant City Manager for the City of Miami made him ready for the task, and his work in other positions for both the City of Miami and the Dade County Transportation Administration gave him all the tools he needed to steer a fledgling municipality down the proper path. But while matters of government and management were crucial, Ron recognized that Village residents wanted to establish Palmetto Bay’s identity in other ways as well.
“All of the parks were renovated,” Ron points out. “We built the softball complex, we built Thalatta, we built the dog park. There was a lot of initial building that had to be done. Remember, we inherited this as an afterthought of the county and turned it into a real city and a neighborhood, and residents wanted different planning, different zoning, and a different look, so it was ground up from that point.”
Being in charge of his hometown never felt like a daunting task to Ron. As a longtime resident of the area before he took on the role of its Manager, he was well acquainted with its people and shared many of their concerns. “I was invested in the community,” Ron says, “and people would see me mowing my yard and paying taxes and doing the same things everybody else does, so I think that had a positive influence on them.”
Ron’s positive influence still lingers in Palmetto Bay due to the legacy he helped build. And while many great things were accomplished during his years of service, including the construction of Village Hall, one of Ron’s favorite achievements is something far simpler but just as meaningful: the personalized signage program he put into place. “You know you’re in Palmetto Bay because we put those signs in,” Ron says. “When you see the blue signs, you know this is Palmetto Bay and things are different. We did a lot of infrastructure projects like road improvement and drainage improvement and other things that had been neglected over the years, but those signs gave us an identity. They say something about where you are and who you are, and there’s a sense of pride in that.”