Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17: What 1980 Can Teach In 2010

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Mariel. McDuffie. A place and a name that will forever be linked not just by a year - 1980- but also by a region's consciousness.

Whether one was 11 (which I was), 41 or 91, it was hard to fathom the rapid succession of events in both the boatlift of thousands of Cubans from the port of Mariel and the verdict in the beating death of Arthur McDuffie that led to several days of deadly riots in Miami's black community. The two are connected to each other because the assistance many Mariel refugees got played a role in the anger African-Americans felt over not getting a fair shake.

Then, Miami was already considered "Paradise Lost," though Time would not use the term in its cover story until two years - and another riot - later. This community would have to go through many more bumps before the work on healing began.

Two generations have been born since that year. Those generations, too young to know the full force of the anger and anxiety this community felt in 1980, have seen things get better in many ways. Those generations stand to be the leaders who can continue that improvement in the future - by learning the lessons of 30 years ago.

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