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Dr. Marvin Dunn
Teach The Truth
Rosewood Florida Tour
Trend Magazine Online™

By Jay Whipple,

Florida/Miami History Keeper!

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!I first heard the name Dr. Marvin Dunn in 2016 from my late first Cousin Mr. Kenneth Jerome Curtis who, like me, was born in Miami-Dade County. He, like his late father (my Uncle) Isreal Curtis worked for the once behemoth Miami Herald Newspaper in the pressroom. My Uncle, according to my Aunt Enid (his sister), was exposed to racist comments daily as he was the first Black/African-American to be hired in that job which paid very well. As faith would have it, I began following Dr. Dunn on Social Media and became really impressed with his veracity in telling it like it is/was concerning Black history as it relates to Florida and Miami. I decided to finally reach out to him after reading about his Tell The Truth Tour to the now infamous former thriving Black community known as Rosewood which was the feature of a popular movie starring Award-winning actor Don Cheadle in 1997. Dr. Dunn responded promptly after I explained to him the impetus of my interview as it related to his upcoming historic trip to northwestern Florida where he now owns a piece of property in the old Rosewood community. Our telephone interview was as expected; candid, insightful, and much needed in a country where the truth is now under constant attack from very high places.

Note: Click here for an expanded audio interview with commentary (some adult language used)!

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- Where were you born?

Dr. Dunn -- I was born in Deland Florida; that's in Volusia County, Central Florida; it's about 40 miles [northeast] from Orlando.

Jay -- What was your experience with race relations while growing up before you turned 19?

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Dr. Dunn -- There were no race relations. You stayed in your place, you did the jobs that they allowed you to do, you stood in line and waited for white folks to be served first; you sat on the back of the bus, you went to segregated schools; you could not go into a restaurant. I was in college before I went to the first restaurant. I had perfect teeth, not a single cavity (chuckles). A year later I had some 15 to 20 cavities in my mouth my first year at Morehouse (Atlanta). What was it like (growing up in Deland); it was a low aspiration existence; you didn't aspire for much because you didn't see much to aspire to; so, my life growing up in Volusia County and even in Miami, my family moved to Miami in 1951, which was about the same thing; it was a sense of very severe limitedness as to where I could go; particularly educationally. I never thought that I could aspire to go any other place other than Bethune Cookman College (Daytona Beach, Florida), or FAMU (Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; Tallahassee, Florida). It was kind of a limited existence because you did not aspire to much because you didn't see much to aspire to.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- Why and when did you join the United States NAVY as an officer?

Dr. Dunn -- My father was in the Navy; he was a cook or steward in the Navy; that was my first taste of interest in the Navy. And my older brother, two years older than I, joined the navy; and I sort of followed in that path. My intention in joining was to be a Naval Officer, not a cook or steward. I got those gold bars which meant a lot; that was my goal. It didn't quite work out that way at first.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- What was your rank and how long did your serve in the Navy (Active and Reserve)?

Dr. Dunn -- I was a Lieutenant; in the Army that's equal to a Captain in rank. I went in in [19] 61 and got out in [19] 66; a little over five years.

Jay -- What was your experience with race relations while serving in the Navy?

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Dr. Dunn -- The Navy sent me and about 12 white guys on a Greyhound Bus; I was the only Black person, and since I had a college degree, they put me in charge of the group to go up to be inducted in Jacksonville (north Florida). We got to Jacksonville, I had the papers (orders) for the group, I gave them to the petty officer (Corporal to Staff Sergeant, Army) there at the desk; it was close to closing time for the day so they called up the 11 or 12 white guys and gave them tickets to allow them to go across the street to a white hotel, the rooms to that hotel are still standing actually, for lodging that the Navy paid for and food, to come back the next morning to begin testing for induction. And after the white guys were gone, he called me up and gave me a ticket to go across the railroad tracks to a Colored (today Black/African-American) rooming house to stay overnight and come back the next day; and I said they went across the street, and he said; well, we are closing and come back the next day.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!I walked across the railroad tracks to this rooming house; it was a w@#$e house, there were w@#$%s on the porch when I got there; I went into the kitchen and there were roaches. The meal was over, I got there after dinner, but I saw roaches crawling over the table. And I went upstairs, I didn't eat; my bed had chinks, I pulled the covers back and I could see bugs in the seams of the pillows. And the sheets were yellow, so I slept on the chair. There were women bringing men in all night. The next morning, I go down for breakfast and its cold oatmeal and again flies and roaches; I didn't eat breakfast. I go back to the induction center to take the test for Officer Candidate School (OCS); since I was a college graduate, I was qualified to take the OCS test, and I did; and I failed. I failed badly. So, the petty officer, the white guy, called me up, and he is almost smiling. [He said]; You're the college graduate right; Going to OCS? I said yes, I am, he said no you're not. Because you failed the test; you're going to Great Lakes Recruit Training Command (North Chicago, Illinois) with the rest of these dummies you brought in here.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!
And they put my a$$ on an airplane and flew me to Great Lakes; I was a Navy recruit. Before I left the induction center, I asked to lodge a complaint and they brought out this Lieutenant Commander (Major, Army), white guy, and he said what's the problem, and said I didn't pass because of the way that I was treated here. I will never ever forget what he said to me; he said, that's where Ella Fitzgerald (legendary Black Jazz vocalist) stays when she comes to town, that's where the Black stars stay, no one ever complained before. So, I did and left for Great Lakes. And a little bit before graduation [at Great Lakes], an eight- or nine-week program, this limousine pulls up to the barracks and this petty officer gets out and asked my company commander do you have Marvin Dunn; he says yes, [petty officer replies] put him in this car.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!So, they put me in the back seat of the car and drove me to command headquarters. And the base commander was sitting there with my letter in his hand from Jacksonville; he said you wrote this letter in Jacksonville complaining about the situation with the test; and I said yes. He said, well the Navy is going to give you the chance to take that test for officer candidate school again tomorrow morning at 7 o'clock (0700 hours). So, I took it and I passed, and that's how I got to OCS. Had I not complained, had I not left written documentation of my problem, I never would have become an officer. At that time the Navy had .008% of Black line (combat) officers in the Navy.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- Why did you decide to pursue Psychology as a discipline?

Dr. Dunn -- I began to have an interest in racism [while in the Navy] and what I saw around me was race discrimination. And I sort of gravitated towards finding out more and learning more about that and I thought I wanted to be a school psychologist to help, you know, make sure that Black people got assisted properly so psychology attracted me for that reason.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- What was your experience with race relations during your tenure at FIU (Florida International University) and how long did you work there?

Dr. Dunn - FIU was trying to reach out to Blacks [African-Americans]; FIU did not hinder any of my activism in the Black community; in fact, FIU supported my work which is the only reason why I stayed there all those years. The university of course has a problem like many other institutions and that is attracting Black faculty, because competition is so stiff. When I joined FIU in the psychology department I was the only Black professor which is one of the largest departments on the university's campus. Today, there is one Black professor in the psychology department at FIU. Forty years later they still have just one Black in the psychology department. I was at FIU about 35 years. I retired as Chairman of the Psychology Department.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- What was your initial motivation/inspiration for writing your books and filming your documentaries and has that changed over the years?

Dr. Dunn - My initial motivation was that there was almost nothing available in terms of Black history in Miami. Virtually nothing available of substance in terms of Black history in Florida. What you would read about Black history in Florida and Miami is the work people did as laborers, as farm workers, as caretakers of white children; that's how we were portrayed in the historical record.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- Which book or documentary was your most difficult to produce and why?

Dr. Dunn -- Good question.(reflective pause) The Black Miami Book! It was the most difficult book because we had to start from scratch. There was not a lot to build upon. So, I had to get groups of students over the semesters to go to the libraries to dig up stuff out of the archives to have enough to put together the story book. That was very very difficult to do. The stories I wrote about lynchings and all of that; they were relatively easier to do because there was press about those events although twisted press but there was still press about these hangings, lynchings, and what have you. So, there was a larger database on the research on anti-Black violence than there was on how a particular Black community developed; in this case Miami.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- You recently sponsored a trip to Rosewood (on its 100th anniversary of the terrible atrocities that were committed by the then town folks between Monday January 1 and Sunday January 7, 1923); what was your motivation for putting that trip together and what did you hope you would accomplish now and in the future?

Dr. Dunn - The motivation was to offer an opposing narrative to DeSantis [Florida Governor] and his criticism of Critical Race Theory (CRT); I wanted to put another narrative out there to counter that. And what did I hope to come out of it? Good question. I hope that many more efforts would be made to resist this anti-woke movement that DeSantis is going to take national. And if we have people going around to places where these terrible things happened; telling the truth, insisting on the truth, then that's a counter-narrative to what I think is going to be the discussion during the next presidential election. I want to have pictures, voices, images; particularly of children, high school kids saying we want to know this stuff, we want to be educated; we want to go on these trips. So, and I want to have a visual way of showing that.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Jay -- What are your future plans to Teach The Truth to everyone?

Dr. Dunn -- We are now planning another trip, the second Tell The Truth Tour to the governor's mansion in Tallahassee.

Jay -- What are your closing thoughts concerning this interview and questions?

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!Dr. Dunn - I guess today my closing thought is.(reflective pause) there are very few places in our country where anti-Black violence has not happened. And people in our communities, white and black, need to come together to Tell The Truth about these things and move beyond them to reconciliation. And without Telling The Truth and facing it squarely, we will never be able to move forward as a nation in terms of our racial history and racial relations.

Dr. Marvin Dunn Teach The Truth Rosewood Tour 2023 Pic!The Miami Center for Racial Justice was established by Dr. Dunn and a group of community advocates for racial justice and peace, as a non-profit organization, in 2020 following the George Floyd incident. The purpose of the Center is to tell and preserve the true black history of Florida especially those stories that are difficult to hear. The Center, a 501c3 qualified organization based at Barry University, aims to educate young Floridians especially so that their voices will carry those stories forward to future generations.

Visit their website to learn more and/or contribute to this much needed cause!

Note: All photos (except George Floyd Poster) courtesy of Dr. Marvin Dunn

Want to be interviewed for an upcoming edition? Click here to submit your request. Must be entertainment, travel, or leisure related.

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