By Wayne Anderson
The Hampton House, in the Brownsville neighborhood of Miami, once attracted some of the most influential Black musicians, activists, and notables of the 20th Century, including Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., but it unfortunately fell into disrepair. Today, though, the Hampton House has been restored and transformed into The Historic Hampton House Museum & Cultural Center, and is prime to welcome another generation of entertainers.
The Hampton House once served as a motel and safe space for the Black traveler. Uniquely featuring dining, a swimming pool, air conditioning, and other amenities not commonly found in lodges approved by the Green Book during the Jim Crow era, the Hampton House offered a unique atmosphere that catered to the stars of its time. While Miami Beach was the spotlight for musicians and nightclub acts, the Hampton House was where Black performers returned when the show was over. Visitors to “The Jewel of the South,” as Hampton House was fondly referred, could count on catching glimpses of Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and many other celebrities. Hampton House was the place to see and be seen.
“We had a place here in this community that was a first-class place,” said Dr. Enid Pinkney, 89, who used to frequent Hampton House as a young adult. Pinkney is now considered the matriarch and founder of the newly-transformed Hampton House. She is deservingly credited for saving the motel from demolition, successfully petitioning the city for a sizable grant to preserve the iconic relic, and opening The Historic Hampton House Museum & Cultural Center in 2015.
The Historic Hampton House was recently the primary setting for Regina King’s feature film debut One Night in Miami, a film that chronicles Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown spending the night Ali became heavyweight champion of the world together.
Recognized as the most prominent cultural center and museum in the state of Florida, as well as the most iconic Green Book motel still in operation, the Hampton House has positioned itself to recreate its magical allure with a new generation of entertainers and visitors.
“In honor of its history, we are once again making this a place where icons from all over the world are going to come back to,” said Curb Gardner, the director of growth and strategy and event producer.
Beginning on March 27, The Historic Hampton House will host “From BeBop 2 Hip Hop” a six-part outdoor supper club concert series that opens with four-time Grammy-nominated Neo-Soul singer Eric Benét. Future performances may include Chaka Khan and Maxwell, as well as a blend of Afro-Latino and Hip-Hop acts. This inaugural event will run through November.
Tickets to see Benét are available at FromBeBop2HipHop.com. “From BeBop 2 Hip Hop” is the perfect opportunity to support The Historic Hampton Museum & Cultural Center’s legacy, one that is an integral part of Black History.