Black History: Looking Back on Highway Bias in Miami

Six decades after the end of Jim Crow in Miami, overlooked transportation policies continue to segregate our City.

Author: Kevin Amézaga
Published On: Monday, February 01, 2021 | 04:16 PM

In an era of segregated lunch counters, plaques on public transportation that advised colored patrons to seat from the rear (one which still lives in HistoryMiami's museum today), and redlining, it's hard to think of a policy with more lasting effects than the destruction of Miami's first Black community: Overtown.

Since the 1950s, I-95 has served as Miami's main arterial expressway. For suburban commuters, the expressway allowed them to move out of the city center in an era of White Flight to places further north in Dade County. For the Black residents and communities displaced by its construction, the areas have never recovered.

The construction of I-95 through the heart of Miami's Black community is a prime example of why, when discussing transportation policy, transportation justice for Black Miamians must be front and center. As the community most reliant on our county's public transportation and affected by Miami's rapid expressway expansion, Black Miami's voices need to be heeded.

As transit and safe streets advocates, we can't ignore the highway bias that continues to exist in our communities. Unsafe streets with little regard for higher rates of pedestrian activities lead to increased motor-vehicle-related deaths in Black communities. If we don't address these issues, then we will never build an equitable transportation system that fosters economic opportunities for all Miami residents.

This is why at the Miami Riders Alliance, we are committed to using our platform to not only listen to, but to raise up Black voices in our community. We believe that by building a transportation system that works for all, we can get everyone ahead, together.

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