The Higher Education of Miami’s First Black Fire Chief

Race relations in the city of Miami, Florida, have often been strained. In 1980 five white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury of beating a black motorcyclist to death. Following the verdict a riot erupted in the Liberty City section of Miami resulting in 18 deaths.

Hispanics now make up more than 60 percent of the population. Blacks and non-Hispanic whites are slightly less than 20 percent of the city’s population.

Given the city’s current racial makeup, it is noteworthy that Miami’s new fire chief is an African American. Maurice Kemp, a 24-year department veteran who has served as deputy chief since 1999, was recently promoted to the top job. Kemp is a graduate of historically black Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.