barack_obama_web_4.jpgWhen President Obama delivered his 2011 State of the Union speech, he highlighted that America’s future depends on its ability to out-educate and out-innovate. The President was speaking to America and the world.  It’s time for Liberty City to heed this message and deliver.  It’s not only time; in fact, it is long overdue.

Those who watched the 2011 Super Bowl saw a segment late in the game in which the Green Bay Packers linebackers coach and former NFL great Kevin Greene told the talented young Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews III that it was time to make a play. Matthews promptly went out and made a big hit that caused a fumble which ended up handing the Packers the Super Bowl victory.

For Liberty City, it’s time to make a play. 

Liberty City is one of the poorest and most crime-ridden cities in Miami-Dade County. It is 94 percent black.  The United States poverty line for a family of three is $18,530.  The 2000 median family income in Liberty City was $18,809. This would suggest that the entire neighborhood is poor. But the definition of poverty can be subjective.

The dictionary says that poverty is the state or condition of having little or no money, goods or means of support; it implies a lack of means for a proper existence, especially a lack of food and clothing.

The statistics can tell one story but if anyone needs confirmation, just take a drive across Northwest 79th Street, west of Interstate 95 or down Northwest 27th Avenue — Unity Boulevard — and you will quickly see that Liberty City is truly poor.

This is not a permanent condition or an irreparable state. In the past, it was easy to blame “the white man” for the ills of the inner city.  This is absolutely not the case.  Liberty City lacks leadership.

We know that they have a newly elected Miami-Dade Commissioner for District 2, Jean Monestime. Where is his “state of the union” address for Liberty City?  Liberty City also has another newly elected official for District 5, Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II. Where are his plans for improving conditions in this proud community?

The evidence of Liberty City’s potential is in its athletics. In the last 10 years, Miami Northwestern High School has produced four state football championship teams.  The girls track teams are six-time state champions.  Therefore, there are young champions in Liberty City.  What is needed now is championship in academics.  It’s time to succeed in the classroom. Northwestern High has received D’s and F’s for the last 10 years.  There is no white man to blame. The residents can blame only themselves.  It’s known that not having adequate food, shelter and supplies do have a negative effect on a student’s education.  However, there is no excuse for 10 consecutive years of academic failure.

Between the time a student enters school in the morning and leaves in the afternoon, he or she should learn something. Are the students at Northwestern High learning anything at all? Certainly, if you can produce champions on the athletic field, you can have champions in the classroom, as well.

That’s not all. Several multi-millionaires have been involved or lived in the Liberty City community, such as music icon Luther Campbell, NBA player Udonis Haslem, Rapper Trick Daddy, Northwestern alumni rappers Trina and Jackie O, NFL player and TV personality Chad Ochocinco.  So, why is the city still poor?

What Liberty City needs right now, and forever, is leadership.  First, find a leader that will motivate the students to be champions in the classroom.  Then, find and partner with those multi-millionaires to assist with providing school supplies and facilities that will give each student a computer, an iPad and Internet access.

Third, ask those millionaires associated with the community to open a business in Liberty City.

The last thing that the residents need more of is welfare.  As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”  The residents want jobs and job training, not handouts.

John Dudley is a model, actor and freelance writer living in Miami Beach.  He may be reached at