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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Troy Duffie
We’re going on an extraordinary trip. But don’t prepare to travel because it doesn’t require a car, train, or any conventional transportation device. It only requires your mind for we’re going on a trip back in time.
The winds pick up as we travel back to Miami circa 1950, a few years after the end of World War Two. We’re moving quickly past fishing boats and the Jungle Queen tour boat at Pier 5, past the Bayfront Park Bandshell, and even past the Olympia Theatre, finally stopping in “Colored Town”.
You may hear the sweet soft echoes of Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald as you make your way down NW 2nd Avenue. You should feel the summer breeze on you cheeks, and savor the smell of fresh fruit in the air.
The crowd you see off in the distance is being let out of the Lyric Theater after watching the latest performance of the hottest play in town. If you turn westward, you may see three buildings hanging above the small houses between NW 2nd Avenue and NW 3rd Avenue. Those buildings are home to St. John Baptist, Mt. Zion Baptist, and Greater Bethel AME, the three churches that anchor this community.
This is the legacy of our nation’s urban policy. This is the legacy of poor race relations in Miami and in America.
Wind begins to pick up speed as we move forward through time. You slowly, then with some consistent pace begin to see houses disappear. Construction trucks pile in, trees are cleared and the earliest version of I-95 is built where those houses were.
As you turn your face northward on northwest second avenue boards go on business windows, buildings are torn down, and frustration rests on the faces of those who’ve called this place home for years.
The wind picks up speed as we move faster towards the present and when you open your eyes again, what you saw on our trip twenty minutes ago is gone.
It’s been replaced with apartment buildings, homelessness, and poverty. The land that held culture and hosted Joe Louis, WEB Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, has been reduced to dirt, sidewalk, and abandoned buildings.
What you see is modern-day Overtown. A land who’s pride was carved out by urban renewal and the interstate that looms over its residents. This is the legacy of our nation’s urban policy.
This is the legacy of poor race relations in Miami and in America. Communities of color are not inherently poor, or crime infested.
They simply aren’t aided the way they should be. So let’s make that effort to stand up for those communities and give everyone a fair shake.
Let’s make the effort to find ways to “improve” our cities without trucking out people of color. Let’s find a way to expand our skyline without destroying history and culture that spans 40+ years.
Let’s attempt to make communities of color better by improving education, attracting small businesses, and creating resources before we attempt to gentrify.
Let’s adjust this broken urban policy so situations like the one in Baltimore are unlikely to happen across America. Miami’s history can serve as a guide to solve this problem.
Troy Duffie is a Miami native who is a student at Howard University. He is also an ordained minister in Overtown.Post Views: 637
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The day after Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin issued an executive order removing county clerk’s names from marriage licenses, Kim Davis, the clerk who earlier this year refused to issue the documents to same-sex couples for religious reasons, spoke out about her thoughts behind her decision. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in… Read MorePost Views: 646
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By Courtney Anderson
When South Carolina native Bakari Sellers was elected to the state’s General Assembly in 2006, he made history.
He was the one of the youngest people and the youngest black person to ever be elected to the position.
Sellers was 22, only a year or so out of Morehouse College.
Sellers was in elected office from 2006-2014.
And during those years, Sellers worked with the Obama campaign in 2008 and earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina.
It is a career path many politicians would hope to reach by the time they hit their 40s and 50s, and it is one that got Sellers a spot in TIME’s “40 under 40” a few years back.
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Now Sellers is no longer in the South Carolina General Assembly. In 2014, he ran for the Lieutenant Governor office, a race he alluded to in that same TIME article.
“I do love our lieutenant governor’s office. That would be a good window to look out of,” Sellers said in 2010. “And the governor has a nice house. But we’ll see.”
Sellers lost the race for lieutenant governor, a rare setback for one of the leading progressive voices in South Carolina.
Sellers again demonstrates how he’s different than many politicians: a loss like this would throw a wrench in most political plans.
But not for Sellers.
“I lost up, actually,” Sellers said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Sellers still doesn’t have a particularly strict five-year or 10-year career path. He is all about using his career and positions to stand up for people he feels aren’t being heard.
“I think I have options,” Sellers said. “Right now, I’ve been able to give a voice to the voiceless.”
Standing up for the voiceless is in Sellers’s blood. His father, Cleveland Sellers, was a civil rights activist who is still dedicated to social justice. He is the younger Sellers’s inspiration.
“My father would say ‘History isn’t changed unless you push it,’” Sellers said. “And I rely on those life lessons every day.”
Family, Sellers said, is the one thing that has managed to stay consistent throughout his changing career.
His wife, Ellen Rucker Sellers, and their 11-year-old daughter, Kai Michelle, are always by his side.
Sellers and Rucker got married in the summer of 2015.
“They’ve always given me the courage to keep going,” Sellers said.
And Sellers has to keep going. He doesn’t have any time to waste.
He is an attorney at Strom Law Firm, and a member of the Democratic National Convention rules committee.
He recently argued for equal protection for unmarried same-sex couples under South Carolina’s criminal domestic violence laws. Sellers is also urging people to pay attention to criminal justice reform and issues of wealth distribution of black families in America.
When he is not dealing with all of the responsibilities of being an attorney, he is trying to keep up with the rapid twists and turns of the 2016 election.
“I have to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle because I’m a part of it now,” Sellers said.
Sellers is a commentator on CNN, which he is said is one of his most fun jobs. It has also put him in the national spotlight, next to luminaries like David Axelrod and Donna Brazile.
“That’s my family,” Sellers said. “That’s my daily.”
CNN isn’t the only place Sellers has visited. He has also appeared on the Steve Harvey Show and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
He has even given an interview on The Breakfast Club national radio program, paying his good friend Charlamagne Tha God a visit. Not exactly the most common place to find a CNN contributor.
“We’re both trying to change the world in different veins,” Sellers said of Charlamagne. “We’re hoping to inspire someone to dream big, with their eyes open.”
So far so good for the 31 year old Sellers on that front.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Post Views: 957
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