Liberty Square: Power, History and Race in Miami

A look at the past, present and future of Miami-Dade County's oldest public housing project, Liberty Square. Built by FDR during the new deal, it was the first segregated housing development in the United States and now faces an uncertain future as a $300 million redevelopment gets underway.

  • Moses Shumow
  • Moses Shumow
  • Walter Rivera
  • Diego Saldaña-Rojas
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    32 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 7, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Moses Shumow

Moses Shumow, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts at Florida International University in Miami. Dr. Shumow’s research is on the connections between media and geography, and has focused particularly on the production and consumption of immigrant and Spanish-language media in South Florida and nationally. His work has been published in the International Journal of Communication, Visual Communication, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journalism, Journalism Practice, and Media, Culture and Society. He is the editor of Mediated Communities: Civic Voices, Empowerment and Media Literacy in the Digital Age (Peter Lang, 2014), and co-author of the forthcoming News, Neoliberalism, and Miami’s Fragmented Urban Space (Lexington, December 2016). Prior to earning his Ph.D., Dr. Shumow worked for nearly a decade in documentary filmmaking and was a member of production teams for nationally broadcast programs on PBS, Discovery Networks, History Channel, and National Geographic.

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Director Statement

This documentary tells the story of the Liberty Square Housing Development, which was built in 1937 and is one of the oldest public housing projects in the country and the first segregated project, built specifically for Miami’s black residents at the time. Over the years, as a result of neglect and disinvestment, it has become a place where tragedy and violence are all too familiar, in stark contrast to the hopes and dreams of the working-class black community in Miami that it used to represent.

In 2015, the housing project was targeted by Miami-Dade County for razing and redevelopment. Under this plan, the entire project will be torn down and new, mixed-use housing — meaning both public, subsidized and market rate units — will be built in its place. Because I have been working in the community for several years, I became interested in both capturing the important history of this community, telling the stories of the people who live there now, and bearing witness as change looming on the horizon.