Making a Difference: Ruth Greenfield

Published On: May 18 2012 04:58:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Jan 07 2013 04:39:22 PM EST

MIAMI -

Her life's story reads like a dramatic music composition -- spontaneous, original, and classic.

With her love for music, Ruth Greenfield opened doors for people in Miami who were good enough to play with others but not legally allowed to.

Greenfield changed all of that, and paid a price for it, but six decades later says it was worth it.  

Greenfield is a Paris-trained pianist with a natural talent for music and teaching others.

It began in the 1950s, when she returned home to Miami after getting married in France, and Magic City was mired in segregation. 

"People just lived that way. My parents were very classic in that, too. They were southern. They had a very fine woman working for them. But they never thought of integration, " said Greenfield.

But Greenfield never gave it a second thought, and, in 1953, opened what may be the state's first multi-cultural fine arts conservatory. 

Within years, she had seven successful branches.

In the classrooms, everyone sat together, learned together, and played together.

Jim Ford, one of her former students, still plays with the passion of a teenager 61 years after meeting Greenfield .

"She came up against a lot of opposition. People would have not persevered in a similar situation. I always have admired her perseverance and her courage. I don't think I could have done what she did," said Ford.

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