All over this country, we are witnessing an unusual display of violence whose root causes are housed in generational poverty, and in my judgment, not the scapegoat called racism. It’s because of our unwillingness to discuss openly the real causes of community violence that we consistently bring forth inappropriate and senseless solutions.
The Liberty Square Rising Project — which I liken unto a Liberty City “rape” if it’s executed as proposed — is a prime example of this behavior.
Let’s be honest: The focus on Liberty Square isn’t about changing lives or community empowerment, but executive leadership posturing.
It sends the message that we will not be reactive but proactive — a message that’s sincere and well intended, but it will not prevent the inevitable. Until there’s an effort on behalf of Miami’s black community in partnership with the Greater Miami community to replace despair with desire, anger with happiness and “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 million cost associated with it and, if done right, could serve as the best community transformation project since the Model Cities program of the ’70s.
You cannot raise Liberty Square without raising the quality of its surroundings. Therefore, a Liberty Square Rising program must be developed in collaboration with the city of Miami and the community at large. We have an opportunity to join with the county mayor, the Miami mayor, County Commissioners Audrey Edmondson and Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon to take the Liberty Square Rising Project and change the lives of children yet unborn.
Liberty City shouldn’t be raped because of the fears of others and what they think will happen because there’s a place called Liberty Square that you have to pass on your way from the airport to Wynwood, downtown or South Beach.
As long as we see it as that place that might explode, we will continue to make decisions that make our beliefs our reality.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami