Q&A with Katja Esson, Valencia Gunder (activist, organizer, and film participant), and Aaron McKinney (film participant), moderated by Tanya Greene, Director of Human Rights Watch’s US Program, on June 2

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

This film is captioned and audio-described; the discussion panel following the film will be live-captioned.

Razing Liberty Square also screens digitally nationwide between June 5 – 11 on HRWFF’s digital streaming platform. Watch here.