WHAT: The Liberty Square housing project. Created as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan, it was the first public housing project in the Southeastern U.S. and provided a new housing option for Overtown’s segregated black residents.
WHY IT MATTERS: In the 1960s, Liberty Square became densely populated, living standards declined, and violence increased. And in 1980, the McDuffie verdict came down. Arthur McDuffie had been beaten to death by four white Miami-Dade police officers. They were found not guilty and race riots broke out throughout the city. 18 people died, 400 were injured and property damages were estimated at $100 million. The housing project never truly recovered. And Liberty City has struggled with poverty and violence, issues that persist to this day.
In 2015, the county announced plans to raze and redevelop Liberty Square. The project, Liberty City Rising, is intended to improve neighborhood safety while creating better housing for Liberty Square’s 600 residents.
DID YOU KNOW: A “race wall” was built to separate the housing project from the white neighborhood — an effort to segregate the black and white residents of Liberty City. Remnants of the wall are still standing today.