Live from the Pork & Beans

This morning, on my ride to work, I listened to Jeremy Hobson’s Marketplace report on Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. The topic of the segment was fairly broad, focused on economic recovery and “the new American dream,” and what that means moving into Obama’s second term. Looking at Liberty City, Hobson chose a part of town where, in his words, “economic recovery is non-existent”:

Liberty City is one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods. It’s 95 percent African American and the median household income is about $18,000 a year.

Sadly, nothing about Hobson’s report was all that shocking. But the figure for the median income lingered with me, as it often does when I think about the struggles of the working poor. It also made me want to know more about the specific history surrounding the Liberty City housing projects, more commonly known as the Pork & Beans. As is the case with many housing projects, violence is an entrenched problem. Included below is a list of notable events regarding the history of the Pork & Beans:

Until the de facto racial segregation in public accommodations and private homeownership practices ended after the enactment of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, Liberty Square became the most densely populated subdivision in the Miami area.

Once a largely middle income community, a purge of poor elderly and several welfare-dependent single mother families from Overtown fled to Liberty Square, leading to a black flight of middle and higher-income African Americans to suburban Miami-Dade county and a decline in living standards in the project between 1960s and the 1980s.

Liberty Square and surrounding area were the location of notable Miami area race riots in the years following the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, most notably in 1968, during the 1968 Republican National Convention on Miami Beach,and in 1980, following the killing of Arthur McDuffie.

(Photograph: The Liberty Square Housing Project, aka the Pork ‘n’ Beans, via Random Pixels)