The American Dream in Liberty City, Miami

Whitney Maxey, a community organizer at the Miami Workers Center, says that in the city's poorest neighborhoods, the American Dream is just an illusion.

From waterfront condos to middle-class neighborhoods, signs of a housing recovery are appearing all across Miami. But there’s still one part of the city where the 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.

Whitney Maxey, a community organizer at the Miami Workers Center, says from the housing market crash in 2008 to today's economic recovery, not much has changed in Liberty City over the past few years.  

"Our communities ... they've been in a state of crisis, and so the crash was just, I mean, it was just a deepening of devastation.”

Selling President Obama t-shirts on the corner of the street, Liberty City residents Frank Goodman and Earl Quinn described the American Dream in their community: “The American Dream is to have your own job, keep your job, and buy a house, hold onto your money, get some education, because if you don't, you're not going to survive in this town here."

“I think these communities definitely show that the American Dream is an illusion,” says Maxey, “and I think one misperception is that people in communities like Liberty City don't want to work hard -- they don't want to do this or they don't want to do that. But the reality is, and you look around, there's not a lot of opportunity here for people to even plug into.”

If there is an American Dream in Liberty City, says Maxey, it’s "having a voice that's heard and recognized as the authority for their area."

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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