According to history aficionados Angela Rey and professor Sandra Castillo, in 50 years since the Kendall Campus opened, there has never been a history club.
It wasn’t until Rey stepped into Castillo’s AMH2020 class that the club started taking shape.
They originally intended to start a blog but things quickly snowballed.
“I approached Castillo to start our own club and the next thing I know, she hands me paperwork from student life,” Rey said.
The club held their first meeting on Oct. 25
Today, Rey, a 19-year-old history major, is president of the Miami Dade College History Club, which has 20 members. Castillo serves as the adviser and fellow history major Cameron James Kalajainen is vice president.
The club’s goal is to encourage discussion about history, especially local history.
“When people think Miami, they’re not thinking history, just EDM and the beach,” Rey said. “Nobody thinks of it like New York, Chicago [or] Boston, so it’s nice to have a club to talk about local history.”
Rey argues that the city of Miami is so diverse that it includes Latin, European and Southern history.
“History is a large subject with strong ties to many others, as such, we give our interested peers a place where they can discuss ideas and belong,” Kalajainen said.
A typical meeting for the organization includes discussions about historical figures, places, and events. But most of the time is spent on planning trips, including one to Fort Jefferson. The fortress located in the Keys is famous for housing the conspirators against Abraham Lincoln during post-Civil War America.
“It’s cool because no one considers an event as big as Lincoln’s assassination as something that can be related to Miami’s history,” Castillo said.
The club hopes to visit Fort Jefferson in early January and will soon start fundraising for the excursion.
On Saturday, Oct. 28, the members visited cemeteries that were affected by Hurricane Irma to pick up branches and debris left by the storm. The club met up at the Miami City Cemetery, the oldest and most exclusive cemetery, where only people who have played significant roles in the community are buried.
“It sounds creepy, but it’s really nice when you do it with other people,” Rey said of the cleanup. “One portion is segregated with soldiers, Catholics, and even a Cuban president.”
Rey recalled the time a gravestone listed a man as being a native of Florida. Curiosity led them to delve into records and they discovered that the gravesite was wrong, he was actually from Philadelphia, which prompted another discussion for the group.
“What’s important about this club is how it impacts the students more than they think,” Castillo said. “Local history isn’t known, as most of us are kind of sheltered and not everything that’s historical happened a long time ago.”
Students interested in joining the club can email Rey at email@example.com or attend a meeting. The club meets every Wednesday in Room 6206 at noon.