Miami-Dade County

See inspiration for Angelou’s poetry at historic Overtown rooming house

Tucked into the Miami neighborhood of Overtown is the Historic Ward Rooming House. It was where blacks and Native Americans could stay, and sleep safely, during the segregation era.

It is fitting that Historic Ward Rooming House, a restored and historically designated building, should serve as the gallery for art that once lined the walls of Maya Angelou’s home.

Angelou, acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist and autobiographer, was born three years after Shaddrack and Victoria Ward built the Ward Rooming House in 1925. Angelou died in 2014.

Now you can see some of the inspiration for her poetry at “The Art of a Caged Bird Singing: The Personal Art Collection of Maya Angelou,” open until Sept. 3. The event is presented by Hampton Art Lovers.

One highlight of the exhibit is drawings and paintings by artist Tom Feelings, a friend of Angelou’s for many years. His work is lovingly inscribed for her.

The gallery also includes an exhibit of the photographs of Brooklyn’s Phillip Shung, who has traveled extensively to discover “connections across the French colonies and the human capital that was plundered in the creation of the Francophone world.”

“Hampton Art Lovers is honored to showcase the artwork that adorned Maya Angelou’s home and inspired her poetry, including ‘Langston Hughes: Sunrise is Coming After Awhile, Poems Selected by Maya Angelou’ Silkscreens by Phoebe Beasley,” said Darryl Neverson, co-founder of Hampton Art Lovers.

“And what a treat to be able to add in the works of photographer Phillip Shung. The French colonial influence is explored through the lens of the exceptional eye of Shung. Art aficionados will see how Senegal, Haiti and New Orleans share a culture, people, and food that are connected in distinct ways.”

Shung’s exhibit is titled “FrancoFiles, Code Noir: A Visual Exploration of Negritude in New Orleans, Haiti and Senegal.”

Sponsor of the show is the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency. Neil Shriver, SEOPW CRA executive director, said, “this exhibit is a preview of Overtown once again becoming a global destination of unique culture, history, and entertainment.”

“Historically referred to as ‘Harlem of the South,’ Overtown was once renowned as the center of black culture and entertainment for the South, reflecting the energy of the community that found expression in the many cultural forms that existed there such as theatre, music, art, and food,” Shriver said.

The Historic Ward Rooming House, at 249 NW Ninth St., is one of the last buildings still standing from that time. Visiting the gallery is free. You can RSVP for a ticket at Learn more at


The active South Florida Writers Association held its annual installation of officers and board of directors at the Pinecrest Library with former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner as installing officer and keynote speaker.

Lerner talked about the importance of civic engagement including voting, getting involved in local issues and running for elected office.

As installing officer, Lerner passed the gavel to Beverly Melasi-Haag for her second term as SFWA President and installed the officers and board members. They include: Jeffrey Dorn, Evelyn Benson, Rocio Vargas-Herrera, Jonathan Rose, Holly White, Connie Goodman-Milone, Ricki Dorn, Billy Jones, John Labriola, Colleen Farrelly, Steve Liebowitz and Sheena Powell Szuri.

The group meets the first Saturday of each month, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at 5835 SE 111th St., Pinecrest. SFWA meetings are free and open to the public. Learn more at

The speaker for Aug. 3 is Florida International University professor and author Michael Patrick Gillespie. His topic will be “Screwball and Slapstick Comedies of the 1930s.”

Gillespie is a distinguished scholar and professor of English at Florida International University. He is on the Board of Trustees of the International James Joyce Foundation and on the Board of Consultants for the Zurich James Joyce Foundation. He has written a dozen books on the works of Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Kennedy and on Chaos Theory and Irish Film.


The Social Citizens of Southeast Florida and the Kiwanis Club of Northeast Miami-Dade honored four students with scholarships at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School.

The three students who each received a $5,000 check from the Norman S. Edelcup Charitable Foundation and Social Citizens of Southeast Florida Scholarships were Stephanie Gaitan, Romy Bensoussan and Dylan Santana. Another student, Brianna Malagon, received $2,500 from the Kiwanis Club of Northeast Miami-Dade.

“This is the second year that the Social Citizens are participating with the school, and we are proud to be supporting the academic goals of these gifted students,” said Lewis Thaler, vice president of Social Citizens.

“The Kiwanis looks for graduating seniors who have been members of the Kiwanis Key Club in their school for four years and who have been elected as club officers multiple times,” said Jeffrey Berson, vice president of Kiwanis Club of Northeast Miami-Dade.

Learn more at and Contact Dennis Stubbolo, president of Social Citizens, at 305-936-0986 or Contact Berson for more about Kiwanis Club of Northeast Miami-Dade at 305-409-7850.

The next Social Citizens lunch event is noon to 2 p.m. July 25, at Moe’s Deli, 2772 NE 187th St., Aventura.

“We have a terrific lineup of thought-provoking events, inspiring guest speakers and bus excursions. Our motto is to educate, entertain and socialize, and we welcome active and social people to join our dynamic club,” Stubbolo said.


The Sunny Isles Beach Branch Library will host local author Peter LaVilla at a performance of his 30-minute play, “Ants-In-Your-Pants,” at 6 p.m., Aug. 1, at 18070 Collins Ave. The library is inside the Sunny Isles Government Center. There is free parking.

“My one-man show hopes to entertain and bring about a smile with humor, comedy and poetry,” LaVilla said. For more information call Branch Library Manager Hector Vazquez at 305-682-0726.

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