Epilogue to the Series

Unity Boulevard?

Most people who traverse 27th Avenue are familiar with its co-name, and most understand just how different its neighborhoods are.

But that doesn't mean they are ready to join hands and sing.

"It's a really telling name," said 23-year-old Blake Triana, walking near Biscayne Bay on the street's southern end in Coconut Grove. "But I try to stay away from high-crime areas, so going all the way to Opa-locka really isn't my thing."

Or Calvin Morgan, 72, who spends his Sundays sitting outside a burned-out coin laundry in Brownsville: "Unity Boulevard? I like where I am. I'll never go down to Little Havana. I guess it was OK until they took it over. You know who they are, right?"

A little more than 20 years ago, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved 27th Avenue's co-name to celebrate a 17.5-mile link among well-off, middle class and poor; black, Hispanic and white.

"This attempt was clearly meaningless," said Marvin Dunn, a retired Florida International University professor who specializes in community psychology.

Real life on the street shows the fragmentation amid Miami-Dade's well-known diversity, Dunn said.

"Just because we don't have overt clashes doesn't mean these places are functioning well together," he said.

But there's a need for interaction that goes beyond the inherent value of learning about one another, Dunn said. Politics requires coalition-building, he said -- efforts that are made when communities can look beyond race and economics.

Joseph Kelley -- born and raised in Opa-locka and now its mayor -- is looking at the brewing fight over whether the county can and will extend Metrorail along Unity Boulevard as one of those times when unity along all neighborhoods along 27th Avenue will be needed.

He also sees the way his city is changing. More people with roots in places like Brownsville are moving in. The Hispanic population is steadily increasing. Perhaps, he said, it's time for more outreach among the neighborhoods along this road.

Still, he acknowledged that he rarely goes south of 62nd Street.

"I suppose we can all do a little more to truly make it a Unity Boulevard."

Copyright 2008 The Miami Herald Media Company