Resistance, Resilience and Reconciliation

Embark on a journey to deepen your understanding of Miami's enduring inequities. Join the Redline Bus Tour, an educational experience that uncovers our region's history, rooted in the legacy of redlining practices.

“America is an old house. We can never declare the work over. Wind, flood, drought, and human upheavals batter a structure that is already fighting whatever flaws were left unattended in the original foundation. When you live in an old house, you may not want to go into the basement after a storm to see what the rains have wrought. Choose not to look, however, at your own peril. The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away. Whatever is lurking will fester whether you choose to look or not. Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see…..”

Excerpt from Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The origins of the term "redlining" in Dade County Florida can be traced to the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), a federal New Deal agency of the 1930's. HOLC developed an elaborate appraisal and rating system for different neighborhoods in cities across the country. These neighborhood appraisals were plotted on "residential security maps''. These maps were used for years afterwards as a tool for denying loans to residents of Dade County's black communities.

Type "A" neighborhoods, outlined in blue on the map, were those more affluent areas that were considered to be the most desirable for lending purposes. Type "B", outlined in yellow, although slightly less affluent than type "A", were also considered to be desirable for lending purposes. Type "C" neighborhoods, outlined in green, were generally sparsely populated fringe areas that were typically bordering on all black neighborhoods. All of the black and low-income neighborhoods were characterized as Type “D” and were considered to be the worst for lending.

Type ''D" neighborhoods were outlined in red on the map (the origin of the term "redlining")

HOLC 'security maps' were available to local bankers (who, after all, had an important role in drawing them up) and were used in evaluating mortgage applications.The result was that bank loans were not available to type “D” Communities. As a result, these communities were consigned to physical decay and intensified racial segregation. While some government subsidized loans were made in these areas, local financial institutions, using the security map classification system, strengthened their earlier discriminatory loan practices.

The effect of this "redlining" was to hasten the physical decline of the city and escalate the process of residential segregation. Miami has one of the highest rates of racial segregation of any major city and this has been one of the major contributing causes to the riots of the 1980's.

by: John Little

This tour will shed light on the enduring legacy of redlining and its profound impact on communities in Miami, specifically Overtown, Liberty City, Brownsville, Earlington Heights, (and other neighborhoods such as Wynwood and Allapattah). Redlining, a discriminatory practice originating from the 1930s, continued long after the Civil Rights Fair Housing Laws of the 1960s, persisting in more subtle forms even today.

Join us on this tour to understand the historical context, challenges, and the ongoing legacy of redlining that continues to shape Miami's neighborhoods and communities.

Liberty City -

The Great Migration from the South to the North was no different in Miami. In 1937 the migration from Overtown to Liberty City began with the construction of Liberty Square, the largest Public Housing in the South of the time. However, surrounding Liberty Square the Black middle- and upper-class lives in 'Miami's Black Mansions'. The guided tour will showcase the palatial homes of the Doctors, Lawyers, Educators, and Entrepreneurs of the day.

The community now known as Liberty City has its roots in-New Deal era politics, as well as in local efforts to address the needs of Miami's African-American communities. In the 1930s, Father Culmer, then minister of Saint Agnes Episcopal Church, spearheaded an initiative to improve sanitation and housing in Miami's black neighborhoods. Benefiting from coverage in the Miami Herald, Culmer's crusade garnered national attention and involvement from the WPA. By 1937, this interest led to the building of Liberty Square, a housing project of 34 units built between Northwest sixty-second and sixty-seventh streets. Under the tenure of James E. Scott, the project's first administrator, Liberty Square flourished as a middle class African American neighborhood. Many of Liberty Square's residents moved into the area in response to deteriorating living conditions in Overtown coupled with the realities of a segregated society.

Conditions in Liberty City began to deteriorate in the 1940s and 1950s, when white developers began purchasing land from African American families for development. This trend led to an increase in rentals and decrease in home ownership in Liberty City. The area suffered another more dramatic blow in the 1950s, when Overtown, the center of Black Miami, was demolished to make room for the building of I-95. This tragedy displaced tens of thousands of African Americans, many of whom migrated to rental properties in Liberty City.

Faced with overcrowding, neglect, and economic stagnation, citizens of Liberty City struggled to maintain a sense of community, often meeting with significant success. Most notably, Athalie Range, one of Miami's most important politicians, began her crusade for community involvement by fighting for improved conditions at Liberty City Elementary. Liberty City, however, also faced difficulty and frustration, as evidenced by race riots, in 1980, 1982 and 1989, all of which manifested in response to instances of police brutality against African-American citizens. This tension between strong local yearning for a viable community, and the limitations imposed by municipal neglect is one that continues to play itself out in Liberty City to the present day.

Historic Overtown

A historic and cultural gem, Overtown is one of the most important and oldest neighborhoods in Miami. The guided tour of this neighborhood will focus on the area's historic majesty of its 'Faith, Cultural Criminal Justice, and of course its Juke Joints'.

 A Beacon of Culture and Resilience

Throughout history, Miami-Dade County has been shaped by diverse groups who migrated to this region. The natural environment posed common challenges to early settlers, including Indians, explorers, runaway slaves, and colonists. Their shared experiences of battling mosquitoes and adapting to the local conditions established a common bond among them.

In the 1890s, Coconut Grove became the first Black settlement in Miami, with early arrivals working and living at the Peacock Inn, the area's first hotel. Most of these early settlers were Bahamians, while native Black Americans from various Southern states also joined the community. Pioneers like E.W.F Stirrup played a vital role in shaping Coconut Grove. By the 1920s, Stirrup owned a substantial portion of what is now downtown Coconut Grove. At least twelve Black families were among the original settlers in this area, and many of their descendants still reside in the houses built by their ancestors.

In the mid-20th century, Overtown became home to the Black Police Precinct and Courthouse, created to address racial injustices and segregation in law enforcement. Although the precinct was in operation for only 13 years, it was converted into a museum in 2009, preserving its historical significance for future generations.

Today, Overtown is experiencing a renaissance led by various agencies and community development organizations. Efforts are underway to revitalize the neighborhood while preserving its historic character. The Historic Overtown Folklife Village, a two-block area, is being developed to provide retail, cultural, and entertainment options. The village is a designated Main Street community, focusing on themes such as the African Diaspora and the "Harlem Renaissance," celebrating the Black experience through the arts.

Numerous historic sites and new constructions with a historic character are being developed, offering mixed-use facilities, flexible spaces, and green areas to create a safe and creative environment. Overtown is once again on the path to becoming a thriving tourist destination, with a focus on heritage and cultural preservation.

The Lyric Theater, a centerpiece of Overtown, reopened in 2000 after being closed for forty years. This historic venue now hosts literary, visual, and performing arts events for both tourists and residents. Overtown's rich history and vibrant future continue to unfold, making it a place where culture, resilience, and community spirit shine.

Brownsville/Historic Hampton House -

Featured in the Negro Travelers Guide the Green Book, for many years this architectural community jewel was the place that Muhammad Ali, Sam Cook, Jim Brown, Malcolm X stayed during trips to Miami, and where Martin Luther King honed his 'I have a Dream Speech.'  On the guided tour from Overtown participants will see the heart of the community on a drive down Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The 1960s were also a tumultuous time in Miami with racial inequality and segregation laws being strictly enforced. While Muhammad Ali had his star-making win in Miami Beach on February 25, 1964, he was not allowed to spend the night in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow's segregation laws. Instead, he went to the Hampton House Motel in Brownsville, a story later shared on the big screen in "One Night In Miami," directed by Regina King. The Historic Hampton House was just outside of Miami's Brownsville neighborhood on the mainland, where Ali celebrated with his friend Malcolm X. It's said that he enjoyed a bowl of ice cream to mark his big win.

Despite facing challenges such as racial tensions and the encroachment of low-income housing, Brownsville has remained a neighborhood with character and pride. The Brownsville Neighborhood Civic Association has been dedicated to preserving the community's integrity by fighting for improvements in schools, lighting, streets, safety, cleanliness, recreational facilities, and more.

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