Black in the Day

Virginia Key Beach, restored to its former glory.

Sure, Miami is marketed nowadays as a multicultural melting pot – a population with a wonderfully wide variety of ethnicities and cultures living together in bilingual harmony. But way back when, Miami was a whole lot more “Southern,” in the traditional, exclusionist, prejudiced sense of the word. Notable artists of color held court onstage at tony South Beach lounges and then were made to leave through the back door and stay at Overtown-area hotels. Art Deco buildings had segregated bathrooms. And Caucasian citizens never dared step foot on Virginia Key. Back then, it was known as Bear Cut, the colored-only beach. For years the park lay as a fallow, depressing reminder of the accepted ignorance of the Jim Crow era. Thankfully things have changed for the better. Here’s symbolic proof: today’s grand reopening of the historic Virginia Key Beach Park!

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there’ll be an official ceremony, complete with a ribbon-cutting and handshaking among every government official and VIP you can think of. Snore. The beach opens today, but the real celebration takes place tomorrow. On Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m., there’ll be fabulous food, fun kids’ activities, and live performances by musical artists including R&B legend Jeffrey Osborne. Admission and parking are free today and tomorrow.
Fri., Feb. 22; Sat., Feb. 23, 2008

 
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