Miami Dade County Public Schools
Alumni Hall of Fame
Class of 2020
The first African-American to ever direct an Academy Award winner for the best picture with Moonlight, Barry Jenkins was raised in Liberty City to a single mother who became consumed by drug addiction, and a father he never knew. Jenkins became a distinguished football player at Miami Northwestern Senior and studied film at Florida State University where he found like-minded cinephiles with whom he has worked with ever since through his production company, Pastel. With Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry is one of the few filmmakers to ascend the narrow spires of American prestige cinema with works that centers black characters, and the image of a character staring straight ahead has become a hallmark of his work. Considering himself an introvert and "intensely private" person, Jenkins is most comfortable engaging through his work. Like writing the screenplay for Flint Strong on the life of the gold-medal-winning boxer Claressa Shields to be played by Ice Cube, and directing the entire Amazon video series, The Underground Railroad.
Tarell Alvin McCraney
Acclaimed for his script that was the basis for Moonlight, which won him and fellow inductee Jenkins an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Tarell Alvin McCraney's academic potential was recognized early. Raised in a working-class family in Liberty City by a mother who struggled with drug addiction, he found himself tracked into a magnet program from middle school that let him focus on literature and performing arts; graduating from New World School of the Arts. McCraney says he is obsessed with telling stories, and credits his grandfather, who was a Baptist minister, for deepening his understanding of the spiritual power of narrative. Growing up alongside immigrants from Haiti and Cuba also influenced his writing as seen in the trilogy of dramas, The Brother/Sister Plays. His ability to merge the mundane with the profound and to draw complex emotions out of people is a hallmark of McCraney's work. He has seen eight plays produced, written two screenplays, won a McArthur Genius Grant and adapted Shakespeare for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. Not to mention serving as the Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama.
At 84 years young, Sam Moore is the singer behind the R & B duo, Sam & Dave, and Soul Man; the last song earning him induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Moore's career began, like many others--inside the long gone, black nightclub on 20th Avenue in Liberty City called The King of Hearts. But unlike others who performed on that stage like Memphis-born Aretha Franklin and Georgia-born partner Dave Prater, Sam Moore was homegrown. Born in Overtown, he attended Booker T. Washington Senior and is the only Miamian in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has played command performances for the Queen of England and six presidents from Jimmy Carter to present day bringing his Miami music royalty to Ocean Drive as grand marshal of the Veteran's Day parade this past November. Sam's hometown pride is contagious and his love of young people is evident--partnering with local organizations like Guitars Over Guns, Miami Music Project and Little Kids Rock to put musical instruments in the hands of students and lending his voice to the a cappella choir from Miami Arts Studio 6-12 at Zelda Glazer.
It's a good thing for Miami-Dade that Mitchell Kaplan decided against becoming a lawyer. Born and raised on Miami Beach, this Beach High graduate went on to receive his English degree and for a short time debated whether his father's profession of law was a better choice. However, his love of literary culture landed Mitch back in Miami as an English teacher at Southridge Senior High. With the idea of becoming a bookseller in the back of his mind, Kaplan opened Books & Books in Coral Gables in 1982 - just 2 blocks from where the flagship location stands today. Two years later, he co-founded the Miami Book Fair, now the largest of its kind in the nation, deepening Miami's cultural footprint. Over time, Books & Books has expanded to nine locations including one in Grand Cayman and one in Key West with children's and young adult author Judy Blume. Although always connected to bookstores, Mitch is now also a publisher, podcaster and succesful movie producer. His company Mazur Kaplan will commence production, this spring on the suspense thriller, Let Him Go, starring two-time Oscar winner Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.
Stephen M. Ross