Tuesday, May 07, 2013

More Of Miami

                                          picture of Little Haiti Cultural Center

Wrapped around cool blue waters, postcard-perfect sunny weather and the supertoned bodies of the rich and infamous, Miami's gift of a deep-rooted, multicultural experience is ideal for travelers seeking more than just the city's well-known attractions.

This cultural path leads away from the South Beach strip and starts in the city's historically Black and immigrant neighborhoods where the ties of Caribbean, Cuban, West African and the Old South all intertwine.

The first of these neighborhoods is Historic Overtown. The area was the center of commerce for Blacks in the early 1900's. Today, visitors are transported back to its rich history by walking around the business district where restaurants, galleries, churches and museums are scattered among the homes. The Lyric Theater, built in 1913, was once the entertainment hub for Blacks. The 400 seat venue anchored the area that became known as "Little Broadway."

A tour farther south takes visitors into Miami's oldest community, Coconut Grove, where sea-loving settlers from The Bahamas built the first community in the late 1800's. A drive along Charles Avenue still reveals glimpses of where West Indian pioneers created a new frontier, with the first Black school, cemetery, church and library. Every summer, the Goombay Festival is held in Coconut Grove with Bahamian Junkanoo music and a parade to commemorate these first settlers.

Slightly west of Coconut Grove, Little Haiti carries a culturally festive charge that bustles with the rhythm and scents of Haitian architecture, creole cooking and lively artwork. One of the most visible signs of how the Haitian influence has shaped the area is reflected in the changing of its major street from NE 2nd Avenue to Avenue Felix Morisseau-Leroy, after a Haitian icon.

Still, there is no place that comes alive like Little Havana. From old men smoking cigars and playing dominoes to the rhythmic sounds of Cuban music, Little Havana is the perfect place to come for a true ethnic immersion into pre-Castro Cuba.

There is more to Miami than mojito-fueled party spots. It;s just a matter of getting beyond South Beach to soak in the culture.

sources: ebony.com, blackhospitalitymiami.com

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