Ruth Greenfield

Ruth Greenfield is a musician, teacher, and activist. In 1951 she founded the Fine Arts Conservatory, which according to the New York Times, was “one of the first racially integrated theaters and art schools in the South” (1989). Greenfield was born in Key West and raised in Miami, where her family moved when she was six months old. She studied at the University of Miami for two years, and later earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Greenfield returned to Miami and taught piano at the University of Miami for a short time. Then, in 1949 she traveled to Paris, where she experienced a social scene that was more racially integrated than what she was accustomed to in the US. As she explained to the Miami Herald “When I got to Paris it was 1949, and it was so natural that everybody was mixed, and I thought, My gosh, what is it that I lost out on when I was younger?” (Zuckerman 2012) After leaving Paris, she returned to Miami, motivated to do something to create social change.  One of her primary motivations was a young student, James Ford, who was a talented musician. Yet, because he was African-American, he was denied access to recitals and other music spaces. In 1951 she, along with Ford’s mother, Mary Ford Williams, Tally Brown, and others, founded the Fine Arts Conservatory. The school offered arts classes to students of all racial backgrounds. At first there were music classes, and later included dance, drama, and visual arts. Greenfield also continued her own education, and in 1976 she earned a PhD in music from the University of Miami. She continued to teach at the Conservatory until it closed in 1978, and at Miami Dade College until her recent retirement. In 2011, Miami Dade College renamed the auditorium at the Wolfson Campus the Dr. Ruth Greenfield Auditorium in her honor.

1930s - 2010s


Ruth Greenfield is a member of Temple Israel

Ruth Greenfield has been a member of Temple Israel for eighty years. She also coordinated music performances at the temple.

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