By Camila Fernandez
The Miami Times recently recognized School of Communication and Journalism (SCJ) professor, author and activist Moses Shumow for his tireless commitment to Liberty Square – the first segregated public housing project built in the United States during the 1930s – and its residents. Shumow was among the “New Generation of Dreamers of South Florida.”
The largest Black newspaper in the south, The Miami Times newspaper annually selects and highlights community members who emulate the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Black history makers. The “New Generation of Dreamers of South Florida” are people who use positions and platforms available to them to advance and improve the Black community.
This year, Shumow was honored alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney, co-author of Academy Award Best Adapted Screenplay, “Moonlight;” Wayne Messam, the first Black elected mayor to city of Miramar; and Lakatriona Brunson, the first woman high school football head coach in Florida at Miami Jackson High School.
“I’ve become a part of Liberty Square,” Shumow says, “and I think that’s a small step. Now I can send students out into the world having a deeper empathy and a great sensitivity about issues of race and a greater appreciation for what happens in communities beyond the headlines – knowing that under the surface is a really beautiful and vibrant community filled with really amazing people. The more I do it, the more committed I am to it and so to be recognized by The Miami Times just really meant a lot to me.”
Shumow tells his students to never be afraid of doing things outside their comfort zone and be involved by finding mentors and community leaders who can introduce them to important stories.
“The more you show your face, the more you’re willing to show up somewhere and commit to something – I think that’s important. Our young journalists should be willing to do that,” he says.
Walter Rivera, a broadcast media alumnus of SCJ, says Shumow encouraged him to have an open mind and engage with the world around him.
Rivera was director of photography for the documentary, “Liberty Square: History, Power, and Race in Miami,” which was produced by Shumow and his students. A stipend from the media nonprofit Images and Voices of Hope helped create the film about the history, future and legacy of Liberty Square.
The documentary showed a human side to the notorious neighborhood. Shumow, Rivera says, made the right decision in making the film a first step to help improve the community.
“I’m glad he got the recognition, but I hope it doesn’t end there. There’s still a lot more work to be done, not just from Shumow, but from everyone,” Rivera says.
SCJ Assistant Professor Robert Gutsche says he hopes that people like Shumow will continue to come up with ways to work against inequality. Both are co-authors of a recently published book, “News, Neoliberalism, and Miami’s Fragmented Urban Space,” which examines neighborhoods and public-private developments and inequalities between classes and races in South Florida.
“Combined with the documentary that Shumow and his students produced, our hope is that audiences will be able to see and read all about the changes happening right before our eyes and come up with ways to combat inequality,” Gutsche says.
Click here to read a feature story on Shumow by The Miami Times.