Overtown, Miami, USA.
Curated by Gean Moreno
Overtown is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami, Florida. Known as the African-American enclave “Colored Town” when Miami was founded in 1896, the area had begun to be referred to as “Overtown” by the middle of the twentieth century and at that time was the thriving heart of Miami’s black culture. Though during the mid-1900s the neighborhood was known as “the Harlem of the South,” by the last decades of the twentieth century Overtown had become a center of urban decay, poverty, and crime.
In his study of the African-American experience in Miami, Dr. Marvin Dunn cites a confluence of three events in the second half of the twentieth century – the economic effects of the end of racial segregation, the ill-conceived efforts of “urban renewal,” and the construction of Interstate 95 directly through Overtown – that led to the collapse of the neighborhood as a cultural and economic mecca for Miami’s African-Americans. Dunn points out that the construction of Interstate 95, and particularly the interchange of I-95 and I-395, decimated dozens of blocks of the densely populated neighborhood, displaced up to 30,000 of the community’s residents, and left Overtown “an urban wasteland.”
I remain lying down for three hours, under a duvet, solidified with concrete, on one of the sidewalks of the Afro- American neighborhood of Overtown, Miami.
(Produced by Cannonball’s Commissioning Program)