PERRINE — State Sen. Dwight Bullard helped unveil a new community mural at Nat’s All Night store in Perrine, painted by Moving Lives of Kids (MLK) students from Arthur Lee Alternative School and Perrine and Homestead residents. The mural, sponsored by Pinnacle Housing Group and the Miami Foundation, highlights influential people from history and from the Perrine community to give passersby in the neighborhood a sense of pride.
The Arthur Lee Alternative School is where Malik Smith, Deatrice Adderly, Kyle Holbrook and other of the budding artists attend, and is how they became involved in the mural. After MLK went to the school and asked if they wanted to help with the painting project across the street, the students were inspired by the idea of helping to beautify the community.
Individuals highlighted in the mural include:
Ronald Tookes — an officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department, he has spearheaded several initiatives in South Miami-Dade County that address safety and social issues in the community. His years of community intervention led to the creation of the West Perrine Neighborhood Resource Team initiated by then Miami-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno.
The initiative prompted Reno to support funding that led to the creation of the National Cops initiatives that currently exist throughout the United States. Tookes contiues to promote stability in the lives of citizens as a community leader in Miami-Dade County.
Ben Shavis — a community activist named the first and only mayor of the city of West Perrine, and who worked to change the political dominance that existed in Miami during his era, his efforts led to the community park at 10381 S.W. 179th St. being named in his honor.
Lee Arthur Lawrence Sr. — a local store owner (Lee’s Grocery Store), confronted local drug dealers by refusing to allow them to sell illegal drugs in front of this store. Drug dealers retaliated and shot him dead one evening in front of the store. The event brought national attention to the community of West Perrine, which led to the creation of programs, some of which currently exist in the community, such as the Neighborhood Resource Team, Community Empowerment Team, Neighborhood Policing Unit, Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club, West Perrine Community Development Program, West Perrine Christian Association and others.
Ethel Beckford — an activist in the West Perrine Community, has led initiatives to reduce racial injustice toward citizens throughout the South Miami-Dade community, and spearheaded civil actions that led to the integration of public schools in South Florida. Her years of work to improve conditions in the community resulted in the local Richmond Elementary School being renamed Ethel F. Beckford/Richmond Elementary School in her honor.
Arthur Woodard — a community pioneer and the first West Perrine citizen to attend college, graduated from Florida A&M University, was a renowned school administrator, and was named to the Florida High School
Association and Florida A&M University Hall of Fame.