18 years living in the Liberty Square and how Blacks struggled and improved themselves
By Dr. P. L. Wright Ph.D.
During 1932 a Housing Development contractor named Floyd W. Davis purchased land in Miami, Liberty City and named it Liberty Square. In cooperation with James E. Scott a retired air force airman, Floyd Davis hired him as the administrator to manage the project. They were also joined by Father Culmer. His widowed wife told me before she passed away that her husband was the person who actually made the suggestion to Floyd Davis to rent to the many black unemployed and low paid workers who were also unskilled, to help them on their way. They were to live there until they gained more opportunities to make their lives easier to move out for others to do the same. Floyd Davis intention along with Father Culmer was to develop the land and build housing for the less fortunate with a goal for them to improve themselves by education and then moving on to a career or a professional position. Afterwards, they would be able to move out and make room for another family to do the same. I also grew up there from 1950 thru 1968 and now it is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt, displacing the current families.
These families have no assurance they would be able to afford to return after the re-construction. Many of the Miamians who previously moved out were happy to begin their aspirations. They now have more education and promised career positions or businesses they started, and would also like to at least save the Center building and the monument across the street from the Liberty Square Center. The center is where those of us had much of our beginnings with academic tutors who helped to shape our learning to read, comprehend, and to discover our aspirations and create goals in life.
We also had sports at the center, talent shows that offered significant cash awards for the young talented winners. It was hosted by a neighborhood world famous celebrity the late Blanch Callaway. She gave the young black talented children the opportunity to display their natural talents. Blanch was the sister of the late Cab Callaway famed artist and band leader. We also had child care at the center to help the mothers who had to go to their jobs while the fathers worked as well. I can remember how united the resident children were on 63rd Street and 13th Avenue with their red shirts, red blouses and their jeans and their union 5 roller skates on Christmas Day. It was free and peaceful and honest fun we all had. I wish those days could return for the youngsters of today to enjoy without the terror of gun violence by other children and sometimes by the Police.
Unfortunately, some of the tenants were medically disabled and couldn’t work at all, but did receive an extremely small Welfare check that barely could support a family. Out of the Liberty Square Housing Development came medical doctors, and other academic doctors, lawyers, judges, Broadway actors, famous recording artists who gained fame with some number 1 hit recordings in the nation and internationally, as well as Grammy Awards and some Rock and Roll Hall of Famers too. What made it somewhat easy for us children to learn fast with interest was the fact that many of our teachers actually lived in our nearby communities. There were authors and freelance journalists, as well as out of the Liberty Square came morticians as the successful late Althea Range Funeral Homes, and church licensed pastors too. The center is the place where the creation of many successful black entrepreneurs were developed, etc. We all would be greatly humbled, as it would also be a significant honor to South Florida Historical Foundation for the center to be saved as a Historical Site for those of us who took the advantage of empowering ourselves and using the opportunity to develop our children’s’ aspirations in their lives too. Our parents were able to bring us up with high morals, integrity, honesty and a true spiritual belief in God. Our parents took the advantage of education and improved themselves in order to help us while living in the Liberty Square Housing Development. The resident families were all united as one family in harmony with each other.
The housing contractors are right now during 2016, beginning the process to demolish the Liberty Square Housing Development, but we post residents are not sure if they have been given instructions to save our monument across the street and our Center building only. I pray they all understand our meaningful reasons in our plight to save the Monument and the Center as a South Florida Historical Site for all to remember and know what was created that happened here on 14th Avenue and 63rd and 64th Street in Miami Liberty City, Florida, at the Liberty City