Our story begins when Miami’s Liberty Square, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden housing projects in the country, is scheduled to be razed and replaced with a modern, mixed-income development.
But it is no coincidence that Liberty Square is suddenly being eyed as prime real estate. As rising sea levels threaten Miami’s luxurious beachfront, wealthy property owners are pushing inland to higher ground, creating a speculator's market in historically black areas previously ignored by developers and policy-makers alike. Located 10 miles inland and 10 feet above sea level, Liberty Square becomes more attractive with each rising tide.
Over the course of three years we will follow three female residents who are fighting to protect one of Miami’s last African American communities, historic ‘Liberty Square,’ best known as the setting for the Oscar winning film Moonlight.
Despite its eclectic mix of cultures, Miami is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States (remnants of the 6-foot-high 'race wall' are still visible today), Liberty Square and the surrounding Liberty City that grew up around it were a cultural hot-spot for famous black entertainers and public figures. Barred from the whites-only beach hotels where they consistently sold out performances, world-class celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne had to stay in Liberty City hotels like the Hampton House. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the first version of his “I Have a Dream” speech there, and Malcolm X threw a victory party for Cassius Clay after he beat Sonny Liston in 1965.
RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE tells a dramatic story fueled by a long history of housing policies that have left this once prominent African-American community trapped within an unrelenting cycle of poverty leaving it up to a group of strong women to lead the fight against what is rapidly becoming the newest form of covert racial injustice, climate gentrification.