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Dreamer of Peace

Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact is felt in Miami

By Christine Alexis

Martin Luther King Jr. was known throughout the world as a figure of peace. Born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, he organized marches and protests toward ending racial injustice and inequality. On Aug. 28, 1963, his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington challenged the United States to adhere to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ ” While this speech is widely known throughout the world, many don’t know he delivered an early version of it in Miami at the Historic Hampton House.

While King was known for his frequent stops throughout the South, he visited Miami quite often throughout the 1950s and 1960s and would routinely stay at the Historic Hampton House in Liberty City. He came to teach nonviolent resistance and to organize marches. While Miami was still part of the “Deep South,” it was one of the more progressive cities; in fact, it had an integrated Air Base Elementary in Homestead for the 1959-60 school year—a year before federal marshals shielded Ruby Bridges in New Orleans and almost 10 years before the “all deliberate speed” standard was no longer constitutionally permissible (Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education). Many experts attribute Miami’s tolerance to its Jewish population, which served as an ally to King’s cause and frequently joined sit-ins, including at the McCrory’s lunch counter in downtown Miami.
Although King was assassinated in 1968, his legacy and work in the community live on. In 1977, Miami became the first U.S. city to organize a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade; it was founded by Preston Marshall of Overtown. Marshall, who died in 2015, met with King several times during the civil rights movement and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to join the founding committee that established King’s birthday as a national holiday.

Marshall told the Miami Herald in 2014, “I wanted to do something to honor him. Since I was a band person, a parade seemed like the most natural thing to do.” Aside from the parade, the city also honors  King Jr. with a road named after him; a portion of NW 62nd Street in Liberty City is known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. And on that street, at NW Seventh Avenue, is the late Oscar Thomas’ mural “Prince of Peace,” which portrays King speaking and a flying dove with an olive branch. As King’s birthday approaches, it’s good to remember some of his efforts took place in our backyard.

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.5 million images of southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For information or to visit HistoryMiami, visit historymiami.org.

 

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.