Late artist Oscar Thomas painted the MLK mural entitled "Prince of Peace"
By: Shayne Benowitz
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his unique impact on Liberty City and Miami.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the most visible figure in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. Born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, he was the chief spokesman of the movement to end racial discrimination in state and federal laws in the 1950s and 1960s. King organized several marches and peaceful protests, and in 1963 he organized the famous March on Washington, which was memorialized in 2013 by President Barack Obama on its 50th anniversary. Here, King delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.
A year later, on October 14, 1964, he was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. Tragically, on April 4, 1968 he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee at the young age of 39. Posthumously, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, and the nation observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day annually in January to honor his courageous work towards freedom and equality.
Miami has a special claim to Dr. King. He visited the city regularly and would stay at the Historic Hampton House in Liberty City when he visited. The hotel was the place to be for the black community in Miami, and other notables who stayed there include Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Robinson and many others. In fact, Dr. King delivered an early version of his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Hampton House in 1960.
In 1977, Miami was the first city in the country to organize a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade with the leadership of Preston Marshall. He was a contemporary of Dr. King and had met him several times during the Civil Rights movement. The parade features floats, marching bands, Carnaval dancers, student athletes and community leaders along Liberty City’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. It culminates in a festival at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park where a statue of the reverend has been erected.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Park
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard runs east to west along NW 62nd Street from Biscayne Boulevard to Hialeah, through the Liberty City community, as well as neighboring Little Haiti and Brownsville. In Liberty City, you’ll find local restaurants, such as Rasta Paradise, Chico’s Restaurant and MLK Restaurant, and hair salons, such as Rose Barbershop and Da City Limits Barber Shop. For shopping, Juliana Boutique is the place to go.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is also where the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center is located in Liberty City. The center, which opened in 1974, features an auditorium, art and dance studios and an exhibition area. It’s dedicated to the community’s artists and children in order to nurture and display their talents and creative ambitions.
Located between NW 32nd Avenue and NW 32nd Court just south of NW 62nd Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park is a lovely green space in Liberty City paying tribute to the work of Dr. King
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mural
Dr. King is honored along NW 62nd Street at NW 7th Avenue with a mural by the late artist Oscar Thomas. Painted in black and white, the mural depicts several images of Dr. King in oration. There’s a dove flying with an olive branch, the symbol for peace, and a quote that reads: “Like anybody I’d like to live a long life.. / But it doesn’t matter now. / I’ve been to the mountaintop / And I’ve seen the Promised Land. / I may not get there with you, / But.. We as a people will get / to the Promised Land.” The mural’s entitled “Prince of Peace.” It’s a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights movement and particularly close to the heart of the residents of Liberty City.
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