Razing Liberty Square

Opened Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Discussion to follow the screening with filmmaker Katja Esson and Cynthia Travieso, Deputy Director, Community Voices Heard.

When residents of the Liberty Square public-housing community in Miami learn about a $300 million revitalization project, they know that the sudden interest comes from the fact that their neighborhood is located on the highest and driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a growing form of racial injustice—climate gentrification.

As rising seas threaten Miami’s luxurious beachfront, wealthy property owners are pushing inland to higher ground. Residents of the historically Black neighborhood of Liberty Square—the first segregated public housing project in the South—are the new target of an upcoming “revitalization” project due to their location 12 feet above sea level. From Academy Award nominated filmmaker Katja Esson, Razing Liberty Square shares perspectives from all angles— residents, community advocates, teachers, developers, and politicians—following the redevelopment from start to finish. Miami is experiencing sea level rise before much of the country, but communities across the US are facing changes similar to the dramatic shifts happening in Liberty Square as the climate crisis exacerbates the affordable housing crisis and the impact of systemic racism. 

“I have a problem with them tearing down Liberty Square. Liberty Square is the heart and when you destroy the heart, you destroy this community. You destroy the people. You’re not going to see people that look like me staying in these projects.”   — Samantha Quarterman, film participant, Razing Liberty Square

“People think that climate change or environmental things are not a Black people’s issue, but one thing I learned about climate is that it affects us in the worst ways.”  — Valencia Gunder, climate activist and film participant, Razing Liberty Square

“The story of Liberty Square is also a cautionary tale of the future of many low-income communities in the face of climate change displacement. It’s a story of racial segregation and a haunting reminder of Jim Crow laws.” — Lena Simet, senior researcher and advocate, Poverty and Inequality, Human Rights Watch.

Screening as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2023.

The panel following the screening will be live-captioned.
Content Advisory: This film contains offensive language, references and indicators of aggressive policing, references to gun violence and domestic abuse. 

  • Country USA
  • Running Time 86 minutes
  • Distributor Human Rights Watch FF
  • Director Katja Esson
  • Accessibility Descriptive Audio, Closed Captioning

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and DoesTheDogDie.com as well as through general internet searches.