AP PHOTOS: Miami’s historic Black Overtown gets makeover – Laredo Morning Times

A man walks down a street, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. Miami was one of numerous Black cities across the country where interstate highways were built, disrupting communities. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway.
1of27A man walks down a street, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. Miami was one of numerous Black cities across the country where interstate highways were built, disrupting communities. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway.Lynne Sladky/AP
Portions of the new Signature Bridge go up, Friday, May 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. At left is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960's which forced out thousands of residents.
2of27Portions of the new Signature Bridge go up, Friday, May 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. At left is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960’s which forced out thousands of residents.Lynne Sladky/AP
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People arrive at the Red Rooster restaurant owned by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami.
4of27People arrive at the Red Rooster restaurant owned by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami.Lynne Sladky/AP
Jamiris Williams sings with the David Ensemble during the Gospel Brunch at the Red Rooster restaurant in the Overtown neighborhood, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Miami.
5of27Jamiris Williams sings with the David Ensemble during the Gospel Brunch at the Red Rooster restaurant in the Overtown neighborhood, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Miami.Lynne Sladky/AP
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Willie Williams, right, owner of the Just Right Barber Shop, cuts the hair of Jeremiah Crossley, Friday, May 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. Just Right has been in the Overtown community as a family business for over 70 years.
7of27Willie Williams, right, owner of the Just Right Barber Shop, cuts the hair of Jeremiah Crossley, Friday, May 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. Just Right has been in the Overtown community as a family business for over 70 years.Lynne Sladky/AP
A homeless man sleeps next to construction for the new Signature Bridge, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. At right is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960's which forced out thousands of residents.
8of27A homeless man sleeps next to construction for the new Signature Bridge, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. At right is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960’s which forced out thousands of residents.Lynne Sladky/AP
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Historical photographs of the Overtown neighborhood are displayed on the outside of the historic Lyric Theatre in Miami. Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
10of27Historical photographs of the Overtown neighborhood are displayed on the outside of the historic Lyric Theatre in Miami. Wednesday, June 2, 2021.Lynne Sladky/AP
Realtor Keva Chester, right, walks with first time home buyers Fatima Heath, left, and Willie Hardemon, center, as they do a walk through at the Twin Homes, Sunday, April 18, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami.
11of27Realtor Keva Chester, right, walks with first time home buyers Fatima Heath, left, and Willie Hardemon, center, as they do a walk through at the Twin Homes, Sunday, April 18, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami.Lynne Sladky/AP
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Chris Norwood, founder of the Hampton Art Lovers, poses for a photograph at the historic Ward Rooming House art gallery in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. The historic Ward Rooming House, built in 1925, once served as a rooming house for Black and Native American people during segregation. The gallery has had success getting Black people to come back to Overtown as a cultural destination, Norwood said, adding:
13of27Chris Norwood, founder of the Hampton Art Lovers, poses for a photograph at the historic Ward Rooming House art gallery in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. The historic Ward Rooming House, built in 1925, once served as a rooming house for Black and Native American people during segregation. The gallery has had success getting Black people to come back to Overtown as a cultural destination, Norwood said, adding: “They come to a place that is holy for them.”Lynne Sladky/AP
Jamila and Akino West, owners of the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast, pose for a photograph, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. West renovated the once boarded-up 1940's-era Demetree Hotel in Overtown to create the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast, along with Rosie's restaurant. The couple is proud to be part of the neighborhood's revitalization, Jamila West said, adding that it's important to pay homage to the history, but to
14of27Jamila and Akino West, owners of the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast, pose for a photograph, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. West renovated the once boarded-up 1940’s-era Demetree Hotel in Overtown to create the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast, along with Rosie’s restaurant. The couple is proud to be part of the neighborhood’s revitalization, Jamila West said, adding that it’s important to pay homage to the history, but to “also insure that the current residents, or past residents even, have the same opportunity.”Lynne Sladky/AP
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Columns for the new Signature Bridge are in place with the Miami skyline in the background, Friday, April 9, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. At right is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960's which forced out thousands of residents. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway. Community leaders are working to ensure that Overtown's Black history and culture are preserved in the process.
16of27Columns for the new Signature Bridge are in place with the Miami skyline in the background, Friday, April 9, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. At right is the original Interstate 395 bridge built in the 1960’s which forced out thousands of residents. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway. Community leaders are working to ensure that Overtown’s Black history and culture are preserved in the process.Lynne Sladky/AP
A man walks past a local supermarket, Friday, April 9, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. Miami was one of numerous Black cities across the country where interstate highways were built, disrupting communities.
17of27A man walks past a local supermarket, Friday, April 9, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. Miami was one of numerous Black cities across the country where interstate highways were built, disrupting communities.Lynne Sladky/AP
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A mural by artist Kyle Holbrook reading Overtown Hope is painted on a building near railroad tracks on the western edge of downtown Miami, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami.
19of27A mural by artist Kyle Holbrook reading Overtown Hope is painted on a building near railroad tracks on the western edge of downtown Miami, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami.Lynne Sladky/AP
Darrick Rudolph shows his daughter Aliyah plans for a proposed Underdeck park at a community meeting, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. The park is part of an infrastructure project involving the new Signature Bridge being built over the neighborhood.
20of27Darrick Rudolph shows his daughter Aliyah plans for a proposed Underdeck park at a community meeting, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. The park is part of an infrastructure project involving the new Signature Bridge being built over the neighborhood.Lynne Sladky/AP
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Construction workers build the new Overtown Youth Center, as the steeple from the historic St. John Baptist Church, and a recently built apartment building serve as a backdrop, Monday, May 24, 2021, in Miami.
22of27Construction workers build the new Overtown Youth Center, as the steeple from the historic St. John Baptist Church, and a recently built apartment building serve as a backdrop, Monday, May 24, 2021, in Miami.Lynne Sladky/AP
A pedestrian walks underneath the Interstate 395 overpass as a crew works on the new Signature Bridge, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. The bridge was built in the 1960's which forced out thousands of residents.
23of27A pedestrian walks underneath the Interstate 395 overpass as a crew works on the new Signature Bridge, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. The bridge was built in the 1960’s which forced out thousands of residents.Lynne Sladky/AP
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The new Signature Bridge is under construction in downtown Miami, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, just east of the Overtown neighborhood. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway.
25of27The new Signature Bridge is under construction in downtown Miami, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, just east of the Overtown neighborhood. The Signature Bridge project coincides with the revitalization of the neighborhood that is currently underway.Lynne Sladky/AP
The skyline of downtown Miami stands behind a mural painted by artist Kyle Holbrook in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
26of27The skyline of downtown Miami stands behind a mural painted by artist Kyle Holbrook in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Wednesday, June 2, 2021.Lynne Sladky/AP
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Dr. Nelson Adams III remembers when his grandparents’ home in Miami’s historic Black neighborhood of Overtown was razed to make way for a highway in the 1960s, forcing thousands to relocate from the area, known then as the “Harlem of the South” for its vibrant music and theater scene.

Miami was one of numerous Black cities across the country where interstate highways were built, disrupting communities. Adams is hopeful the new Signature Bridge now being built over the area, along with a planned park underneath called the Underdeck, will help to transform and reconnect the neighborhood.

The $818 million Florida Department of Transportation project with higher, thinner columns will replace the original bridge crossing Overtown, opening up dark, underutilized space to both a park and a Heritage Trail, and connecting the neighborhood to Biscayne Bay.

Referring to the original bridge as a disaster that destroyed a thriving community, Adams, chairman emeritus of the St. John Community Development Corporation, said: “Righting a wrong is something that is aspirational, but we can try to do right today. “

The Signature Bridge project coincides with a revitalization of the neighborhood that is underway. Community leaders are working to ensure that Overtown’s Black history and culture are preserved in the process. The Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Association is active in spearheading development, and at the same time working to preserve affordable housing and increase Black home ownership.

Derek Fleming, managing partner of the new Red Rooster Overtown restaurant with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, sees the history of Overtown as “one of the most forgotten and one of the most important histories of Miami.”

The Red Rooster was once the Clyde Killens Pool Hall, frequented by musicians such as Count Basie, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. Fleming’s hope is to unify the neighborhood, adding: “There needs to be a replenishment of the existing culture, not a replacement.”

The husband-and-wife team of Akino and Jamila West renovated the once boarded-up 1940s-era Demetree Hotel in Overtown to create the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast, along with Rosie’s restaurant. The couple is proud to be part of the neighborhood’s revitalization, Jamila West said, adding that it’s important to pay homage to the history, but to “also insure that the current residents, or past residents even, have the same opportunity.”

Situated just west of downtown Miami, Overtown was settled in the late 1890s when Henry Flagler was recruiting workers for his Florida East Coast Railroad. Because of segregation, mostly Black workers from the South and Caribbean settled on the other side of the tracks from downtown Miami, in an area then known as “Colored Town.”

The historic Ward Rooming House, built in 1925, once served Black and Native American people during segregation. Now it’s an art gallery showcasing Black art curated by Chris Norwood, founder of Hampton Art Lovers.

The gallery has had success getting Black people to come back to Overtown as a cultural destination, Norwood said, adding: “They come to a place that is holy for them.”