Black wealth-building seems to be the forever trending topic. So, with that said, it’s the perfect time to introduce you to Dana A. Dorsey, reportedly Miami’s first Black millionaire.
Let’s take a look at how he earned his fortune from real estate by buying, selling, and renting properties.
Dorsey's Journey In Real Estate
According to the D.A. Dorsey Technical College, Dorsey was a sharecropper’s son who eventually moved to Miami in 1896.
To find his footing, he worked as a carpenter for Henry M. Flagler’s Florida First East Coast Railroad Company, D. A. Dorsey Technical College also revealed.
It was during this period that he recognized Black workers needed adequate housing. Leading the way, Dorsey reportedly purchased his first plot of land for $25.00 in Colored Town. He then continued to make additional purchases and started building rental homes per plot of land.
By 1913, Dorsey was newly married to Rebecca Livingston and he built a new home for the pair. Four years later, the pair sold land to Miami, supporting the construction of the first park in Colored Town. According to records at the County Recorder’s office, Dorsey also purchased Fisher Island from Herman B. Walker.
What’s more, Dorsey was interested in the 21 acres to make a beach and resort accessible to Black communities.
“He wanted to build a colored resort because during this time of Jim Crow, Blacks were not allowed to even swim in the beach, get in the water. So his whole purpose was to establish a Black resort because he knew that, just like there were wealthy white people, there were wealthy Black people,” Timothy Barber, executive director of the Black Archives said, according to WLRN Public Radio and Television.
Dorsey Had Difficulties Renovating Fisher Island
Despite its promise, Dorsey had various difficulties trying to curate an island for the Black community.
“There were some issues where he could not build and expand Fisher Island. One, I know notably was that it was on the east side of a railroad tracks and we know that [Henry] Flagler designated the east side of the railroad tracks for white people on the west side for Black people,” Barber told WLRN Public Radio and Television.
Barber continued: “And I think it was very difficult for Dorsey to get the people and the manpower that he needed to get over to the island on a regular basis to get this island prepared for a resort that he then sold the island to Carl Fisher.”
One year after its purchase in 1918, Dorsey sold Fisher Island to Alton Beach Company and had already acquired a lucrative career in real estate by this time.