Liberty Square Rising — For Who?
The original op-ed by T. Willard Fair is published in today’s Miami Herald:
July 2, 2015 — All over this country we are witnessing an unusual display of violence; violence whose root causes are housed in generational poverty, and in my judgment, not the scapegoat called “racism.”
It is because of our inability and/or unwillingness to accept and discuss openly the real reasons/causes of community violence, and we inevitably consistently bring forth inappropriate and senseless solutions.
The Liberty Square Rising Project, which I liken unto a “Liberty City Rape,” if it is executed as proposed, is a prime example of this behavior.
Let’s be honest, their focus on Liberty Square is not about changing lives. It is not about “Community Empowerment,” but executive leadership posturing. It sends the message that we will not be reactive but proactive; a message that is sincere and well intended, but will not prevent the inevitable. Until there is an effort on behalf of Miami’s Black community and in partnership with the Greater Miami community to replace despair with desire — anger with happiness — giving up with going up — their fault with my responsibility — the inevitable will always be “VIOLENCE”!! And each generation will be more violent than the preceding one.
The Liberty Square Project is expected to have a $500,000,000 cost associated with it, and if done right, it could serve as the best community transformation project since the Model Cities Program of the 70’s.
You cannot RAISE Liberty Square without RAISING THE QUALITY OF everything that surrounds Liberty Square. Therefore, a Liberty Square Rising program must be developed in collaboration and consultation with the City of Miami and the community at-large.
Liberty Square rises when it is treated as a valuable asset to the Greater Miami community. And as long as we see it as that place that may “explode,” we will continue to make decisions that make our beliefs our reality — the predictable will become inevitable.
Liberty City should not be raped because of the fears of others and about what they think will happen because there is a place called Liberty Square that you have to pass by on your way from the airport to Wynwood, Downtown, or South Beach.
We have an opportunity to join with the County Mayor, the Mayor of the City of Miami, Commissioner Edmondson, and Commissioner Hardemon to take the Liberty Square Housing Project and change the lives of children yet unborn. We have an opportunity to do what the late Alvah Chapman would have done when he rallied the entire community to make Miami a drug free community, when he rallied the entire community to build trust between Liberty City and the rest of the community, after the McDuffie Riots, and when he said after Hurricane Andrew, “We will rebuild.” He is no longer with us, but his legacy still lives on.
And if he were here, he would challenge all of us to see that we are “All Liberty Square,” and we “Rise or Sink, Together.”
T. Willard Fair
President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami