Historic Stirrings of “Miami Feel”

You can think, talk and act yourself into dullness or into monotony or into unhappiness. By the same process, you can build up inspiration, excitement and surging depth of joy. (Norman Vincent Peale)

Why would a leisurely visit to the Miami History Museum be emotionally draining? Most likely, I was “flashing back” to some momentous, Miami moments in my past. Consider how my graduate degree program in Urban Studies Education at the University of Miami passionately pursued community involvement to attack poverty, homelessness, and racism. Or understand the stress I felt as a public school teacher where I taught underprivileged middle school students to read and learn American History in the impoverished Miami  vicinities of Opa Locka and Liberty City. Or picture getting up every day in my late teen summers to wash delivery trucks outdoors in Miami’s oppressive  heat and humidity.  Or feel my contagious “high” of  sitting with rabid football fans at a sold out Orange Bowl rooting madly for their beloved Miami Dolphins. 

In my non travel times now, I live contentedly with my wife in the quiet suburbs of suburban Fort Lauderdale. Yet I still look forward to reigniting those urban passions that so deeply impacted me in Miami downtown. In 1968,  Miami hosted two, Pop  Music Festivals that rivaled Woodstock’s renowned, concert gathering  in the Catskills region of New York in the year that followed. Last Monday morning, I would thus revisit the sights/sounds of these memorable concerts in this highly anticipated visit to “History Miami.”           

 No question, “History Miami” depicted a distinct air of  late 1960s, rebellious protest as I remember it. I distinctly felt a “groove” in the air from psychedelic posters, hippie- like pictures, and filmed concert sets observed during my visit there. How  cool it seemed as a fervently spirited “Progressive”  today  to rekindle my passionate disgust for an unpopular war in Vietnam. Given another chance to re-experience the creative guitar licks /seductive lyrics of Jimi Hendrix, in his famous rendition of Purple Haze/Foxy Lady  at History Miami, in wide screen video, I deeply felt again a powerful need for political change. 

Continuing to arouse my curiosity at History Miami, other exhibits  would further provoke my emotional connection to this city. Wildly colorful artifacts of Miami’s Afro-Caribbean influence revealed a vibrant, downtown cultural scene.  Descriptively positive letters/pictures from children about Miami provided vivid reminders of my love of teaching. Unique street signs/bumper stickers exhibited  Miami’s flair for revealing both joy and sorrow in my artistic imagination.

It seems clear that I am not willing to be satisfied with idle existence in the air conditioned comfort of my home. My curious mind, therefore will embrace deep-seated passion in the present moment wherever I find it. Nourish my brain for knowledge with a good book yet  give me a heart that beats to the historic pulse of my “Miami Feel”once  in awhile.


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