Sophia Monica: Paris 2022

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women’s rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. 

Over Under Paris 2022

  1. Etienne Marcel 

An old church, eclectic shops, and a cultural mix. Etienne Marcel is much like many other Parisian metro stops. Many metro stops have old churches, Paris has some of the oldest churches to date. Once part of the Roman Empire and ruled by many catholic monarchs Paris is known for its renaissance and Gothic style churches. The church at Etienne Marcel named Saint-Leu is a beautiful Gothic style church built in 1235. When we tried to go into the church we found it was closed to visitors. 

Nestled in the neighborhood Saint-Lue is an iconic representation of Paris. It has been rebuilt and added on to many times. The city is never satisfied with it. Just like many of the surrounding streets, this area in particular is always growing and changing; being rebuilt and reshaped by each generation that inhabits it. 

  1. Les Halles

Home to the shopping mall the Forum les Halles is the stop to go to if you want a typical mall outing. This mall houses stores like Nike, Levis, Sephora, H&M and Zara. These worldwide companies all have a home at this gigantic shopping mall. In addition to the mall Les Halles is known for being a connecting metro stop. Here you can get on the RER trains which are regional trains and other metro lines.

This stop is also near one of the amazing restaurants I went to in Paris, Le Escargot. It has amazing Parisian cuisine and houses a huge snail on the sign outfront. I personally felt indifferent about this stop. I am not a huge fan of malls so I did not think this stop was anything special. It was a bunch of tourists and people wanting to get a more westernized experience from Paris. The real experience from this stop happens a few blocks over where you get to see old churches, classic Parisian buildings and good restaurants. 

  1. Chatelet

Chatelet is one of the biggest metro stops in paris. It connects many different metro lines and regional trains. It is also right next to Cite which you can get underground from Chatelet. There are so many exit doors on this stop that will lead you blocks away or steps away. The biggest draw to this stop above ground is the Center Pompidou, a famous museum of modern art. It conveniently hosts a fabulous restaurant on top of the museum called Le Georges. With a fabulous view of the city it is an iconic spot to grab a luxurious meal. 

While this stop is next to Cite it hosts its own personality. It mixes all types of people. Each on their own adventure whether it be shopping at the forum nearby, exploring the Pompidou or grabbing a bite to eat. It is an important stop in Paris tourism and has an eccentric crowd. Young and old alike can be found walking the streets here 

Photo by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0
  1. Cite

This is the stop where Paris connects, built on an island between the 2 rivers of Paris the Seine and the Marne Cite stop is home to one of the most iconic Paris sites. Notre Dame. Unfortunately following a horrific fire in 2019 the church has been closed to visitors. None-the-less Notre Dame is the epitome of French churches. Built in the 13th century in a gothic style, it is known for its representation in statue form of the 28 kings of Judea and mischievous gargoyles on the outside fissade. It is scheduled to reopen in 2024 for visitors. The Cite stop itself is a beautiful mix of socioeconomics coming together. It connects the right and left banks of Paris for a brief moment. The left bank is known for the latin quarter and homing artistic individuals whereas the right bank is known for being expensive and more business professional. Both banks have much to offer.

This stop is quite unique, when you exit the metro for the first time here it is hard to realize you’re on an island. Surrounded by beautiful typical Parisian stone buildings it is only when you see the two rivers that you are met with the comprehension of the space being an island. I love this stop because of the history it surrounds. Notre Dame is a beautiful church, when you see it you’re filled with a sense of awe for the people who built it. It is no easy feat and they did an excellent job preserving it over the centuries. 

  1. Saint- Michel

Saint-Michel is a crowd favorite stop because it is home to the Latin quarter. The Latin quarter gets it’s name from the middle ages when there were many schools in the area that would teach Latin to their students. It is home to Kebab joints, Gyro restaurants, much nightlife, great shopping, and my personal favorite is a piano bar. Throughout our time in Paris we frequented this neighborhood of Paris quite a bit. It is one of the few places you can get a mouth watering five euro meal. Here you will see people from all walks of life. From poor individuals looking for a few coins to buy a meal to wealthier tourists it is a relaxed stop with much to offer.

Personally I found this stop intimidating, the stop itself has sheet metal walls and twisting staircases. Deep below ground it is dark, cold and wet. My first time exiting this stop at night, there was a pile of human feces on the stairwell. Once I moved past that though and ascended to the street above I was met with a sensation I will remember fondly. People walking, drinking, eating and shopping. I felt at ease, safe and comforted in the arms of laid back paris. 

  1. Saint- Germain-des-prés

This is one of the prettier stops on line four in my opinion. The Parisian government did a lot to try and make the interior of the stop more pleasing to the eye. The exterior entrance of the stop is in the art nouveau style with a green metal design encompassing the stop name; it is an ode to a style that is not used much anymore. This stop is home to many wonderful cafes that were once frequented by writers and artists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Boris Vian, Guillaume Apollinaire, Albert Camus and even Pablo Picasso. It is also home to the iconic Cafe De Flore which is alluded to as the place that gave birth to surrealism. 

Today you can find many tourists lining the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of where these wonderful artists once got their inspiration. It is not what it once was though, it is more of a tourist trap then a place for starving artists. It is an ode to the past rather than a muse of the future. Regardless, this stop and the legacy it leaves behind is unchallenged. It is a vital stop on the Metro line and is a beautiful ode to surrealism 

  1. Montparnasse-Bienvenüe

Sometimes people make decisions that make absolutely no sense at all… This metro stop is a representation of that. A huge black USB shaped building sits above this stop. It is ugly, nonsensical, and unwanted. It ruins the Parisian skyline and takes away from the city’s history in my opinion. The stop itself is a never ending labyrinth, there are so many corridors and connecting metro stops that it can be hard to tell where you are going. 6 different lines connect here. There is a legend that students from the Latin quarter got together above where the stop is in the 17th century to declaim poems there and they decided one day to call the space “mount Parnassus” which in greek mythology means “residence of the muses” 

The streets of this stop are lined with shopping restaurants and a beautiful intermingling of people. The legend of the name and the inspiration that led to the neighborhood is uncanny. Yet why did they decide to build an ugly skyscraper? There is no logical explanation to this question, the only answer I can give is human progress. Sometimes we think modern ingenuity is better than the ways of the past and we get ahead of ourselves. This is one of those instances. I am thankful they only built one skyscraper in this neighborhood. Even though it is an eyesore, let it be a reminder that modernality is not always better. 

  1. Denfert-Rochereau

In the 1800s a major health problem arose with the cemeteries in Paris. The dead were interred and moved outside the city to a place they called the catacombs. The bodies were moved at night so the general public would not become hostile towards the project. Over six million people are “buried” in the catacombs today. It is a creepy place to visit, walls made purely out of bodies and skulls. It is also a very concerning place to visit. It makes you wonder about the people those bones once belonged to. Would they have wanted to be stacked on top of six million other people? Taken from their original resting place?

This metro stop is an example of how problematic human decisions can be. From the choice to bury people inside the city walls of paris. To the choice to move six million bodies and then stack them on top of each other. Every choice in these situations was problematic. This was my least favorite stop to visit. It made me uneasy and honestly a little nauseous. I hated seeing the skull walls of the catacombs, it was almost unreal. 

  1. Alesia

Right before Porte d’orleans, Alesia was a commonly frequented stop during my time in Paris. From the movie theater to my favorite grocery store Monoprix Alesia has it all. Including as you might imagine an old church. Saint Pierre de Montrouge was built by the great architect Vaudremer who built it between 1860 and 1870 it sits on a triangular plot of land. Hosts a bell tower and is quite quaint compared to the other churches of Paris. It has beautiful stained glass windows and something quite unique about it is that the church’s ceiling is lined in varnished wood. Instead of a mural or mozaic piece, Saint Pierre Montrouge has beams lining the ceiling.

This metro stop hosts a variety of people from every race and religion. It is more of a suburban stop with many families and small children. On the outskirts of Paris it is home to many Kebab shops and Halal restaurants. My favorite thing at this metro stop is definitely the movie theater. It shows every new major film in both English and French. It also has an amazing drink and popcorn counter. 

  1. Porte d’orleans 

Porte d’orleans is the metro stop I called home for the month, it greeted me at the end of every long day and welcomed me at the start of each adventure. For me it was ground zero for discovering Paris. A short nine minute walk from Cite Universitaire Paris, Porte d’orleans is one of the more suburban metro stops in my opinion. There may not be as many restaurants or places to shop as other stops on line 4 but it has its own beauty and relativity. Since the stop is home to a university one would assume the demographic would be mostly 20 somethings. That is not the case, actually the 20 something crowd at least during our visit was the least accounted for. Mainly I witnessed families with small children and elderly individuals at this stop.

I noticed through my many visits at this stop there are many poorer individuals here, lots of people standing on the sidewalk asking for money. It is very common for someone to be sitting on the ground next to the ATM near the metro hoping for a few bucks when people withdraw their cash. It puts into perspective just how diverse in financial means Paris is.


Paris’ Right Bank, Left Bank & Arrondissements Explained

Sophia Monica: France as Text 2022

Photo of Sophia Monica CC Sophia Monica 4.0

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women’s rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. 

Paris as text

“A King, A Church, and A Window”

Some of the most beautiful, intricate, and ancient stain glass can be found in Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France. Built between 1241 and 1248 by Louis IX, Sainte Chapelle served a major purpose. Louis IX wanted to be remembered and ordained by his subjects as a ruler chosen by God. He went on two crusades to conquer the holy land and had many successful battles. His most astonishing victory however, is considered to be the purchase of the crown of thorns and a piece of the original cross. “In purchasing them, Louis IX added to the prestige of both France and Paris which, in the eyes of medieval Europe became a “New Jerusalem” hence the second capital of Christianity.” (Centre des monuments nationaux) 

His church Sainte Chapelle was entirely built to house these two momentous relics and to add to Louis IX’s grandeur. To accompany these relics stories of the bible are transcribed through art on the stained glass windows. Stories from the Creation Story, to Kane and Abel, to Moses parting the red sea, to finally the story of King Louis IX’s acquisition of the holy relics. To really understand the importance of these stained glass windows you need to know two things. 1. People who practice catholicism do not read the bible, they have the bible read to them during mass. 2. During this time period in medieval France many people did not know how to read so even if they had a bible it would be useless to them. These stained glass windows turned the major stories of the bible into easily accessible images for followers of the faith to come and look at. 

I had never been into a Gothic Style church before, I have seen many basilicas and even been to St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Sainte Chapelle is the most unique church I have ever been in. Looking at the stained glass I understood why Monarchs reigned for so long in this part of the world. A king makes his claim and brings back the crown of thorns, the most valuable piece of Christian history and builds the most elaborate church he can, making sure to highlight his own greatness. How could you not in turn follow his every command? Yet part of me was disillusioned by the notion. With grand gestures comes grand mistakes. King Louis IX went on two crusades both times he lost. It cost him copious amounts of money and many troops. For what? He never retook the holy land. He never rectified Jerusalem. So while Sainte Chappelle is a beautiful ode to Louis IX’s relationship with catholicism it is a glorified story of misfortune. 


Versailles as text

Photo of the Hall of Mirrors, Sophia in the Hall, and Sophia outside the palace CC Sophia Monica 4.0

“Do the ends justify the means?” By Sophia Monica

Walking up to the home of the sun king you are met with a long upward sloping hill. Atop the hill is one of the most ornate buildings I have ever seen. Built of stone and clad with gold accents the Palace of Versailles is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. When Louis the fourteenth came into power, he decided he wanted to move his family and court to his childhood hunting lodge. He employed some of the best architects, artists, skilled and unskilled laborers to build his dream palace. The palace contains 2,300 rooms and can host thousands of people. One of the most famous rooms at Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors. On this day we were granted special access to the Hall of Mirrors and were able to have five minutes alone as a class to explore.

When I told my husband we were going to see the hall of mirrors he thought it would just be a long hallway of reflective mirrors. Instead, the hall of mirrors is so much more. “Political successes are illustrated through the 30 painted compositions on the vaulted ceiling by Le Brun, which depict the glorious history of Louis XIV during the first 18 years of his reign, from 1661 to the peace treaties of Nijmegen.” (Versailles Tourism) Along with the murals on the ceiling the hall of mirrors features gigantic ornate mirrors, classic chandeliers, and windows facing the gardens. Often Louis XIV would move his throne to the end of the hall and meet foreign dignitaries, they would be greeted by members of his court lining both walls creating a hallway of people down to the king. 

Along with the palace there is an expansive garden element to the Palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette wife of Louis XVI wanted her own French farm on the property, so they built a real working farm. When we walked up to her farm, we could not believe it, it looked like a movie set. It was clean and the buildings were almost like cardboard cut outs. It was so far removed from an actual working farm that it was comical. Throughout our time exploring the palace and gardens I was met with an uncomfortable notion. Versailles was built so the King could escape Paris, he wanted to be away from his subjects. It worked for Louis XIV because he was sure of himself and his reign. Being so far removed from his subjects did not work for Louis XVI. Some would argue that the French revolution happened because Louis XVI was so far removed from what was happening in the nation. But do the ends justify the means? Did building Versailles mean anything to the world in the end?

I like to think Versailles is still a cultural icon. People from around the world come to the hall of mirrors. Yet, the disconnect between Louis XVI living there and his subjects’ conditions of life makes Versailles controversial. The people of France were starving while Louis XVI was spending millions of dollars on making Versailles his own. Marie Antoinette would gamble taxpayers’ money away at poker nights in her affair home on the property. People were starving and they were so far removed that they had no idea and did not care. While Versailles still stands it is plagued with disconnection. Being a cultural icon and a place of grandeur at the cost of the monarchy and the pain of the people.

“The Hall of Mirrors.” En.versailles, 2022, 

Lyon as text

Photo of Claude Bloch with France Study Abroad 2022 class CC John Bailly 4.0

“The Spark” By Sophia Monica

There is a distinct moment in an individual’s life that shapes and changes them as a person, a moment where perspective shifts and realization sets in. My moment happened on July eighth two thousand twenty two.

On September third nineteen thirty-nine France declared war on Germany. Shortly after on June 22, 1940, France divided into two, occupied France and the Vichy government. Vichy France was considered Free France, yet they collaborated with the Nazis and a decision was made. It started with the Jews not being allowed to work government jobs, from there it continued in a downwards spiral. Jews had to register with the government and were forced to carry identification cards. In March of 1941 the Vichy government created an agency called the General commission for Jewish affairs. The agency oversaw collecting all Jewish belongings. Then in 1942 the unthinkable happens. “After securing an agreement of the Vichy government, German officials and French police conducted round-ups of Jews in both occupied and unoccupied zones of France.” (Holocaust encyclopedia, 2) At this time Claude Bloch was fifteen. On June 29th, 1944, Bloch was arrested in his family apartment by French officers. When officials arrived they were told to pack, Bloch’s mother made him put on pants. His mother, grandfather, and he were taken to Montluc prison. At the time since he was 15 Bloch was considered an adult. The cells at Montluc were four meters by four meters in size and at one time would hold up to 10 adults. Because there were only 127 cells at Montluc they were forced to create a shack in the yard, which they labeled the “Jew” shack. The Jew shack was where they would place all adult male Jews. Anywhere from 200-350 people would be incarcerated in this shack at any time.

French officers took Bloch, his mother, and grandfather and questioned them. While questioning him and his grandfather, authorities decided they did not like what the grandfather had to say and executed him. Bloch could not comprehend what had happened. They took him to a cell with his mother and she asked where his grandfather was, he said “he didn’t make it.” After a night at Montluc in a cell with his mother they moved Bloch to the Jew shack, a little while later he was sent to Birkenau. They were placed on an open train and transported like cattle. When they arrived, they were divided into two groups: men and women and children. Bloch wanted to go in line with his mother, being a skinny 15-year-old, he thought he would be able to blend in. He tried to jump lines during a commotion but when he got in line with his mother, she pushed him away. It was the last time he ever saw her. After he was processed he was sent to Auschwitz and there he worked hard labor 12 hours a day. It is at this point that I realized his story was going to change me as a person. Bloch said when he arrived they shaved his head, took his clothes, tattooed a number on his arm, and made him find a uniform that fit. From there he was placed in a building with many others. In the mornings they would take roll and every person was expected to be there. In the night many people would die in their bunks due to dehydration or exhaustion. The Jews were expected to carry out the bodies of their deceased comrades and line the corpses up in formation. The same was expected of them in the afternoon when people would die during the work day. Hearing this I broke. As a person with an immense amount of empathy I pictured this 93 year old man in front of me carrying his dead friend’s body at 15 years old. The pain and suffering he went through made me realize just how valuable a human life is. Bloch says his mother gave life to him three times, when she birthed him, when she told him to put on pants, and when she pushed him away in line. If he had been wearing shorts he would have been considered a child. All of the children he saw at Birkenau did not survive. They were taken into an area that looked like showers and were gassed to death. 

Bloch ultimately survived the holocaust. I say he “survived,” in the most primitive form. Yes he lived, his heart still beat and his mind still raced. But the holocaust took something from him, it stripped him of his humanity and tried to turn him into a number. Bloch tells his story now, not to have people pity him. He tells it so that something like this NEVER happens again. It is hard to remain optimistic about the future when there are events similar to the holocaust still happening. Children are being killed in Ukraine for no reason other than a land grab. However, I realized it falls on me and my generation. It is up to us to ensure something like this never happens again, to speak out when we witness injustice. It is up to us to condemn racism. It is up to us to be accepting of other religions. So while his story was tragic it changed me. It sparked a fire for humanity that I did not have before. It made me angry, it made me sad, but most of all it made me want to take a greater stand. 

“Claude Bloch.” Déporté·e·s De Lyon Et Sa Région,

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 

Izieu as text

Photo of Masion Izieu, Lucinne Friedler, art done by the children, and the view from the home CC Sophia Monica 4.0

“They were murdered” By Sophia Monica

In 1939 when France declared war on Germany I am sure nobody thought that children would be murdered in France for simply being Jewish. Yet that’s exactly what happened. In a small countryside town Izieu, a home for Jewish children was raided by a horrific man, Klaus Barbie. He came with 10 soldiers, took the children to the prison Montluc and then sent them to Birkenau. The children ranged in age from 2 years old to 16. When France divided itself into occupied France and “Free France ” many Jewish parents living in Paris decided they needed to get their children to safety. At the time, the lower portion of France near Italy was given to the Italians. Italians were not as harsh in their persecution of Jews. Their primary mission was to eradicate communism. Knowing this, Jews decided to send children to the Italian occupied French countryside. There the children would have a normal childhood filled with games, learning, laughing, and innocence. When American soldiers started retaking Italy which ultimately fell, the Nazis took over Izieu. It was discovered that the children at the home were in fact Jewish and they were taken.

Walking up to the memorial at Izieu you are met with an overwhelming feeling of tranquility. Buried in the mountains there are fields of wild flowers and rolling hills. The fountain in front of the home fills you with peace. It is at this moment you realize what exactly happened here. Children were robbed of their innocence. They were murdered. As we walked inside the home I started to feel a slight tinge of anger. It was not until we walked into what I am calling the memory room that I was filled with the most anger I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Lining long colored tables there are pictures and letters from the children that lived at the home. These dated letters are to their parents, telling them how happy they are at “camp” explaining how they are doing in class, how they play outside, and thanking them for gifts they received. There are hand drawn pictures of war, death, compassion, and imagination that are placed next to the letters. It was hard to read about their joy knowing what comes next. We walked up to the upper level of the home where the children slept and attended class. Seeing the desks they sat at to learn geography and worldly ideas I couldn’t help but feel connected to the space. These children were granted a normal childhood up until they were arrested. Right next to the classroom there is a small room with pictures of all of the children who were sentenced to death. Except for one. Luccine Friedler, 5 years old does not have a single photo of her likeness. Every other child has at least one photo, but Luccine was not granted that gift. Looking at her blank picture frame my heart aches for the parents of these children, many of whom survived the holocaust. Imagine being a parent and making the decision to send your kids to the countryside to have a better life and then get the news that they were sent to a concentration camp and killed. I myself would not be able to live with that decision.
What made me the most angry was when I heard that Klaus Barbie was saved by the Americans and sent to do top secret work in South America. He tortured and murdered hundreds if not thousands of people and was able to survive unscathed. French Nazi hunters Serge Klarsfeld and Beatte Kunzel tracked Barbie in Bolivia. They arrested him and brought him back to France where in May of 1987 he was tried for his crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to life in prison because there is no death penalty in France.
These children were murdered and Klaus Barbie was responsible. After we left the site I wanted to punch a wall, how could this man do this to these children? I wanted him to suffer, at least be sentenced to death. Then I remembered a quote I saw in the museum from my favorite Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel “ce proces pesera sur l’avenir au nom de la justice, au nom de la momoire. Une justice sans memoire est une justice incomplete, fausse et injuste.” translated in english to “This trial will weigh on the future in the name of justice, in the name of remembrance. A justice without memory is an incomplete, false and unjust justice.” In order to be better we have to do what is right, holding a fair trial for him and allowing the law to dictate his future needed to happen. The holocaust was barbaric, humanity was almost lost, and the actions were unjust. We can never let ourselves repeat that, so we must move forward and be fair.


“Butcher of Lyon,” Former Nazi Gestapo Chief, Charged with War Crimes.” Google, Google, 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 

Normandy as text

Photo CC USAF Nose art

George Rarey

By: Sophia Monica

With war comes the destruction of life, loss of security, and rebirth of humanity. While war and its actions are hard to swallow, sometimes it is a necessary evil. World War two was a necessary war. When human beings are being slaughtered in the millions due to their race, religious beliefs or sexuality they must be protected. I am very fortunate to live in a patriotic country where men and women are willing to lay down their lives everyday to protect our unalienable rights. Below is a story of an American man who did exactly that and it cost him his life. As you read his story please remember he is one of many and they all deserve our remembrance and gratitude. 

In Oklahoma on May 17 1917 a woman gave birth to a son, whom she named George Rarey. Rarey spent his childhood attending school in Enid Oklahoma and when he came of age he left the rural state for Greenwich Village New York City. Rarey had a dream of becoming a cartoon illustrator and in 1941 his dream became a reality. He started work as a commercial cartoon artist. That same year he fell in love with Junie, his future bride. His nickname for her, Betty Lou. With the state of the world rapidly deteriorating and his love of country Rarey decides to join the Army Air Corps. After a stint at bootcamp George Rarey is accepted to pilot school, which is quite the feat. It is also ironic because he is allowed to pilot an aircraft but does not have his driver’s license and has never driven a car. After his pilot school graduation he joined the 362nd FG. The main mission of the group was dive bombardment. After this he went to Scotland where he flew P-47’s.His squadron would call him grandpa or pappy because he was the oldest one in the group. In his freetime Rarey would illustrate cartoons of the things happening around him. He was also well known for his dedicated nose art, that he would design and paint on the division planes. 

Photo CC USAF Nose art

On March 22nd 1944 he received a yellow envelope. His wife Junie “Betty Lou” had given birth to their son. She decides to name him Damon. He writes a letter in response to hers. In part of his letter he says “This is really living. . . .What a ridiculous and worthless thing a war is in the light of such a wonderful event….” (Rarey, 1944) In his note he includes a cartoon of himself thinking about his wife and new baby. On  June 6th of 1944 Rarey and his squadron embarked on their D-day plane mission. It is a successful run dropping paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions. From there they keep doing runs. June 27th 1944 Rarey prepares for his 67th mission a reconnaissance on Granville, at 5;00 pm above the town of Villers-Bocage he is hit and crashes 800m west of the town. He did not have time to eject and died on impact. The Germans in the area see the crash and mistake him for an English pilot. They proceed to wrap him in his parachute and bury him in a ditch, they put up a sign saying “here lies an English airman” 

George Rarey never got to meet his son. He died at 27 years old. 

Through all the pain and hardship war brought, Rarey was a bright light for the soldiers around him. When he died his unit had so many positive things to say about him. “You never heal from the loss of a guy like this” . S/SGT John W. BENSON “Whatever fun there was in this war, it’s all over now.” Captain William FLAVIN. Rarey focused on his art he produced many cartoons during his time in the Army Air Corps and painted over 50 nose pieces on planes. He made art in a time of pain. I can not imagine going to war and never getting to meet my child. That is a parental pain I do not think I could endure. My husband is active duty in the military and the thought of him never meeting our child absolutely crushes me. Yet somehow George kept his morale up even though he did not like the war and missed his son’s birth. One of the most interesting parts about George Rarey’s life to me is his career before joining the military, his time as a cartoonist. I am inspired by his continuation of his art through the war and channeling his talent into plane nose art. His cartoons and art will always hold a place in my heart. George Rarey’s son Damon Rarey with the help of his mother collected all of his father’s letters and illustrations and comprised a book he titled “Laughter and Tears: A Combat Pilot’s Sketchbooks of World War II Squadron Life.” It is a beautiful legacy left behind about a man who gave his life for his son and country.

“Rarey George W – 379 FS 362 FG.” RAREY George W – 379 FS 362 FG, 
“‘You Mustn’t Let It Bother You Too Much.’” AMERICAN HERITAGE, 1 July 2022, 

Pere Lachaise As text

Gertrude Stein 

Painting of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso

“A Legendary Icon” By Sophia Monica

A legendary icon you are,

Bold in your acceptance of yourself

You go with your gut

Your desire for others to succeed 

Before yourself

Scared of no man

Loved by one woman

Never really breaking through

Until you met your crowd

Cubism and it’s creators

You changed the world forever

Without you there would be no cubism

Without you there would be no avantguard

Without you there would be no safe space

To create works unaccepted by the world

A legendary icon you are,

I thank you for being strong

For changing the world in the form of art

For allowing yourself to love

When the world was against you and your woman

For stepping up when millions of your kind were being killed

For being unapologetically yourself

I strive for a life like yours

To be as accepting as you

To be as bold as you

And to love as deep as you

To be a legendary icon

Gertrude Stein was a legendary icon to say the least. She was born in Allegany county Pennsylvania and was raised Jewish. She studied at the Harvard annex then she and her brother Leo moved overseas to England then Paris. She and her brother were very close until Stein met the love of her life Alice Toklas. The pair met in 1907. She quickly moved into Leo and Gertrudes apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus. When Alice moved in Leo moved out, which led to Gertrude becoming manager to some of the most well known cubist artists. She is recognised for launching the careers of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Juan Gris. She opened up her apartment and it became a sort of gathering place for talented young artists. Gertrude was also a striving writer and has written many works such as “Three Lives”  which is said to be her best book. Many young writers crossed paths with Stein. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sherwood Anderson, and Jaymes Joyce. It is not known whether or not Stein directly influenced these writers and their works. One thing is for certain though, Gertrude Stein had an impact on every person she came into contact with.

At a time when the world was unaccepting of her, she decided to be accepting of others. She turned Paris into a refuge for starving young artists and helped them succeed. Her impact still lives on today. Without her Pablo Picasso might never have broken through, we might never have been graced with cubism. F Scott Fitzgerald might never have written The Great Gatsby. It just goes to show, you never know how far your impact can reach.


Sophia Monica: Declaration 2022

Sophia Monica at South Beach cc by 4.0

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women’s rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. 

Simone Annie Liline Veil

Photo of Simone Annie Liline Veil cc The Times*

Early Life

Simone Annie Liline Veil was born in Nice on July 13, 1927. She was born Simone Annie Liline Jacob and she was the youngest of four children. Her father Andre Jacob was a non practicing Jewish architect. Her mother Yvonne Jacob studied chemistry. Once they were married Andre insisted she stay home with the children. When the Nazi regime came to power in 1940 Andre avidly opposed them and placed his family on a list known as the infamous “Jewish file.” The Jewish file was a list of Jews in France that opposed the Nazis. At the time putting their names on the list seemed like a good idea as way to protest the Nazis. However, their names on the list later caused much despair. The Italians occupied the South of France. Somehow, during the first roundup of Jews the Jacobs were undetected. They did not remain so lucky, in September of 1943 at 16 years old Simone and the rest of her family were arrested by two SS agents, with the exception of her sister Denise, who was up in Lyon with the resistance. The women of the family were transported to Auschwitz. Her father and brother boarded a train to the Baltic States and were never heard from again. Researchers have tried to determine what happened to Simones brother and father, but have come up with no answers. 

When she arrived at Auschwitz she was stripped from head to toe. Her head was shaved and she was permanently marked with the numbers 78651 on her forearm. From her first hand account via her memoir she said “From then on, each of us was just a number, seared into our flesh, A number we had to learn by heart, since we had lost all identity.” Normally at that time women of her age were sent straight to the gas chambers. Simone lied to the Nazis about her age and was able to escape death by gas. At the age of 17 Simone was liberated from the concentration camp and went back to France. Upon her return she enrolled at the University of Paris and the Institut d’études politiques where she studied Law. At university she met her husband Antoine Veil, they had three sons together Jean, Nicolas, and Pierre-François.

Simone Veil with her three children and husband CC Canadian News


In many interviews and in her own memoir Simone attributes her late mother to her success. During their time at Auschwitz, Simone, her sister Milou, and her mother Yvonne went through many trials and tribulations. They slept in close quarters and were forced to work hard labor jobs for over a year before the camp was liberated. Yvonne studied science and wanted to have a career in the field, Simone drew inspiration from that. When asked later on in life how she kept fighting at Auschwitz and during her trials for the change of abortion law Simone said “I’m often asked what gave me the strength and will to continue the fight. I deeply believe that it was my mother, she has never stopped being present to me, next to me.” (Author’s translation from Veil’s remarks made at the 2005 Creteil event). Yvonne never made it out of Auschwitz, she died of typhus. Years later Simone went back to Auschwitz and addressed the world. A reporter asked “what do you have to say about this place and the holocaust?” to which she replied “never forget, there’s nothing else to do just do not forget.” While Simone was an advocate for remembering the holocaust she was not a fan of exposing children to the horrors early on in childhood. In 2007 during the presidential election in France Simone took fault with Nicolas Sarkozy’s platform of having 10 year old children honor Jewish child victims of the holocaust saying that it was “unimaginable, unbearable, dramatic and, above all, unfair,” Losing her mother and going through all of the things she experienced at Auschwitz influenced her and helped her on her voyage for women’s rights. Simone’s sister Milou made it out of the concentration camp with Simone and tragically died in a car accident in 1952. Simone’s other sister Denise went on to have a long life and died in 2013. 

Photo of Simone, her siblings and mother taken in 1927 CC Philippe Ledru

Career and Contributions

After Law school Simone spent time working as a lawyer before taking the examination to become a Magistrate in 1956. After she passed her exam she took on a senior position at the National Penitentiary Administration. Benjamin Dodman writes “She notably strove to improve women’s conditions in French jails and, during the Algerian War of Independence, obtained the transfer to France of Algerian female prisoners amid reports of widespread abuse and rape.” (Dodman, 1) This is an important part of her early career because it set her up to accomplish amazing things for women’s rights. After her work on women’s rights in jail came to a conclusion she worked on women’s partial rights with regards to parental control and adoption. Her most notable career contribution was the implementation of what is now known as the Veil law. The Veil law was a bill Simone Veil presented in front of the National Assembly in 1974 that allowed women to receive abortions legally and also provide them access to contraceptive. Simone said “No woman happily resorts to abortion. Just listen to women. It has always been a tragedy and it will remain a tragedy. Therefore, though this Bill takes into account the existing facts of situation, though it accepts the possibility of an abortion, the ultimate objective is to control it and, where possible, to dissuade women.” (Simone Veil at the National Assembly) When Simone presented this on the floor of the national assembly, which consisted of majority males, she received major backlash. Reporters used her past as a holocaust survivor as ammunition against her. The Jewish encyclopedia writes “The most abhorrent remarks even compared the legalization of abortion to the Holocaust. The anonymous attacks included swastikas painted on her car and the elevator in her building and letters condemning her children to hell.” (Hottell, 3) Through all of the hate Simone Veil was able to make a difference in the lives of every woman in France. Her impact changed the world.

Photo of Simone Veil presenting the Veil law CC AP

Life After the Veil Law

After her work on the Veil law, Simone never stopped working on women’s rights. In 1975 she joined the Ministry of Health as a health minister. While in office she addressed many issues, such as women’s access to contraceptives. She also fought to end different forms of discrimination against women. “Besides the highly visible Veil Law, she strove in other ways to help women care for their families; for example, she was able to expand health coverage, monthly stipends for childcare, maternity benefits, etc.” (Hottle, 4) She went on to leave civic government and become parliament’s first female president, a job she held for three consecutive terms. Her time spent as president was highly beneficial to the country. After her time as president she went back to the ministry of health and was appointed to France’s Constitutional Council, which is the highest level of constitutional authority. Dodman writes that in 2008, “she was elected to the Académie française, becoming only the sixth woman to join the prestigious “Immortals”, who preside over the French language.” (Dodman,3) Simone Lilian Veil died June 30th 2017 at 89 years old. President Emmanuel Macron said “Her uncompromising humanism, wrought by the horror of the camps, made her the constant ally of the weakest, and the resolute enemy of any political compromise with the extreme right,” about Simone Veil after her passing. 

Photo of Simone Veil later in life CC EPA

My connection and reflection

While Simone Veil lived a very different life then my own, her legacy has impacted my life. The Veil law, allowing women access to abortions changed the world forever. As a woman having the option of terminating a pregnancy is life changing. I believe women should be allowed options on how they want their lives to play out. We should be allowed to have safe sex, and have maternal rights. Much of Simone’s legacy was questioned by critics, they could not understand how she could advocate for women killing their babies. While she herself stated she would never have an abortion she wanted women to have a choice. She hoped through education and contraception that there would be less abortions. At the time women were seeking out illegal abortions which would result in infection, loss of ovaries, or worse even death. Her compassion and view on the issue saved many lives and paved a new way for women in France. In a world today where our own Florida governor is trying to increase restrictions on abortions it is so important to me to speak out on this issue. 

 I grew up in a household with a big Jewish influence, some of my close extended family is Jewish. Reading about Simone’s time in Auschwitz was heartbreaking and all too close to home. The holocaust is a topic many people want to gloss over. One of my favorite novels on the holocaust “Night” by Elie Wiesel is actually on the banned book list. The “banned book list” is determined by each school district. Educators of the school district come together and decide which books are appropriate to teach. A plethora of books regarding the holocaust have been banned in various school districts. Some examples of banned books are “Sophie’s Choice” “The Diary of a Young girl” “Maus” and “Number of the Stars”. Why have all of these books been banned at some point or another? It is because the events of the holocaust were so horrific, graphic, and sickening that many believe it is too gruesome to talk about. Yet the paradox of not talking about the genocide, gas chambers, human experiments, horrific living conditions in the camps, the abuse, starvation, and the many more horrors is that we end up forgetting the events all together. Spanish Philosopher George Santayana once said “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we fail to talk about the holocaust and the events that transpired we will at some point in the future let it happen again. 

After Simone died people remembered her as a friend, ally, human rights activist, and above all a martyr for women’s rights. Her kindness, tenacity, grit, and love of people change the world forever. I can only hope to live up to the legacy she left behind. 

Video of Simone Veil on the floor of the National Assembly presenting the Veil law CC
INA Société


Dodman, Benjamin. “Simone Veil, French Holocaust Survivor Who Championed Women’s Rights.” FRANCE 24, 20 Sept. 2016, 

 “Simone Veil, First President of the European Parliament.” Womentoring, 23 Sept. 2020, 

Simone Veil, 24 Apr. 2022, 

Ruth Hottell Last updated June 23 2021. “Simone Veil.” Jewish Women’s Archive 

de La Hougue, claire. “The Deconstruction of the Veil Law on Abortion.” European Centre for Law and Justice, 30 June 2017,,impacts%20of%20abortion%20and%20contraception. 

Chan, Sewell. “Simone Veil, Ex-Minister Who Wrote France’s Abortion Law, Dies at 89.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 June 2017, 

Chronologie: Madeleine Jacob Biographie, 

Sophia Monica: Miami as Text 2022

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women’s rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. 

Deering Estate As a Text 2022

Photo of the mangroves at Deering Estate, taken by Sophia Monica CC by 4.0

Respect and remembrance for all

By: Sophia Monica of FIU at the Deering Estate January 28th 2022

A tragic, forgotten, untaught history of Miami lies at a luxurious mansion in Cutler Bay. From the Tequesta people who inhabited the land to the black Bahamian workers that built the home, the Deering estate is the one of most elusive cultural icons in south Florida. Six thousand years ago the Deering estate was inhabited by paleo- Americans (more commonly referred to as paleo- Indians) These individuals are thought to be some of the oldest inhabitants of the South Florida region. After them came a group of native Americans called the Tequesta.

The Tequesta were a thoughtful innovative group that lived in some of the harshest tropical Eco Systems on the land at Deering estate. They drank out of fresh springs in the mangrove gardens and created midens to mitigate waste. When the Spanish came to settle in Florida they traded with the Tequesta. The Tequesta showed them how to get water and taught them of the danger that surrounded the area, they helped them build camps and find food. They viewed the land as sacred and treated it as such. Tequesta were a spiritual people, they buried 18 of their people in a mound today only identifiable by the 400 year old tree that sits atop it. Overgrown by weeds and saplings it’s hard to imagine how impressive this burial mound truly is. Standing almost 9 feet atop the ground this mound not only signifies a righteous burial, but also a culture of respect that is lost in the centuries after the Tequesta. Charles Deering found this burial mound and decided to preserve it by not touching it.

When Charles Deering bought his estate in the 1920s, it sprawled over 400 acres and included a small hotel called the Richmond cottage. Charles built his mansion and decided he wanted a place for boats to dock outside his home on the bay. He employed black Bahamian workers. An explosion occurred while building this port and 5 workers lost their lives. This part of history is rarely talked about, these workers were paid almost nothing and their work is not credited to them. Almost 100 years later and no memorial exists for them and people rarely speak of them. Unlike the Tequesta buried at the Deering estate the Bahamian workers do not get the same respect and righteous burial.  In fact the workers who were fortunate enough to just get injured during this explosion weren’t even taken to the hospital. Charles Deering prided himself on being a conservationist. He could have built over the Tequesta burial ground but instead he decided to preserve it. Yet he chose to let these black workers be forgotten. He chose to not recognize them as a vital part of his success. This juxtaposition between respecting and preserving one group but not another, by a man who prided himself with uncovering and protecting history shocked me. Walking through the grounds seeing pottery left by the tequesta I was shocked that their history was intact. Yet for the black Bahamian workers, not a trace of their history is visible at the estate. The only retribution they get is a resident artist making a movie about their history. Yet this resident artist did not know about the black Bahamians until Professor Bailly informed him. This group of people were essentially forgotten. Why is one groups history more important than another’s? And why does one person get the right to choose who is important and who isn’t? Charles Deering chose who to respect and who not to. I think it is important to remember all the groups that came before us and helped shape our history. The black Bahamian workers built one of the most historic places in south Florida. Their efforts and contributions should be talked about, taught, and celebrated. Our legacy was built on their struggle and that deserves a conversation.

Vizcaya as text 2022

Image of Vizcaya taken by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0

Sex, Money, and Alcohol a city built on vanity.

By: Sophia Monica of FIU at Vizcaya museum and gardens February 18th 2022

Sex, money and alcohol when you think of modern Miami these descriptors come to mind. Yet back in the early 20th century Mimai was not much different. In 1912 James Deering purchased 100 acres of land from Mary Brickell and built what we know today as Vizcaya. Much like his brother Charles Deering; the founder of Deering Estate, James Deering employed black Bahamian workers to build his mansion. The black Bahamian workers who built Vizcaya lived in segregated parts of Miami and when the mansion was complete they were not allowed to visit or frequent the beach at the mansion. Vizcaya is recognized for some of the most beautiful sculptures made out of porous stone called oolite. This stone was almost impossible to work with. The Bahamian workers were some of the few that could shape this impossible stone. One of the only artistic contributions of the Bahamian workers at Vizcaya, is a sculptured fountain featured in the garden. It is important to note because it is the only representation of Bahamian sculpture work on the grounds, all other sculpture was commissioned.

James Deering was considered the wealthiest man in Miami at the time and he lived as such. Vizcaya was and still is a destination. To get to it, people would come via boat and were greeted by an obscene stone party barge that they could moar up to. Upon disembarking guests would walk up grandiose stairs to the atrium of the house. The atrium was open to the elements and is clad in marble. It is truly an extravagant entrance. James Deering would host most of his social gatherings in the atrium. He would have his servants set up a 30ft screen and projector to watch movies on under the stars. Entering the house you are met with a sense of pompous and ellure. James Deering was the type of man who wanted the best. This is displayed throughout the house in various ways, in the living room it is displayed in the hilarious medieval sculptures of a lion, the expensive Admiral carpet hanging on the wall, and the seventeenth- century Neapolitan Painting hanging above the organ that was cut in half. All of these pieces were acquired by James Deering because he liked the way they looked, in other words they were cool for the time. He had little actual regard for their historical significance.

Images of the barge, lion statue, and organ mentioned in the second paragraph taken by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0

James Deering was known for being the ultimate bachelor, he would often have parties into the late hours of the morning, but was hardly ever seen with women. His sexuality is still a question to this day. There are secret passages leading to his bedroom and connect with most of the upstairs sleeping quarters. It is safe to assume his sexuality was somewhat fluid given these passageways, the art he displayed, and the lack of girlfriends. Since he was a wealthy man during the time of prohibition he was of course a consumer of illegal alcohol. On the back end of his garden grounds there is a wall with a secret compartment where alcohol smugglers would stash beverages for his consumption.

Vizcaya was built out of vanity, the grounds, home, barge, and art displayed throughout are indicators of the craving for more. Sex, money, and alcohol were the foundation of James Deerings mansion Vizcaya. It is fascinating that a century later these core philosophies of wanting to live free and hard are still the foundation of Miami culture. James Deering was a sort of Miami lifestyle pioneer with his parties, vanity, and fluidity. His legacy stands today as a cultural icon. I can’t help to think though, without James Deering what would Miami be?

Downtown Miami as text 2022

Photo taken by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0

Miami, built on the misfortune of others.

By: Sophia Monica of FIU at the Miami Dade Government Center of Downtown Miami March 11th 2022

Walking up to the Miami Dade government center you are greeted with the smell of exhaust, urine, and salt water. It is an interesting combination of smells that leaves the mind wondering “what on earth is this?” As you get closer to the giant USB shaped structure you start to see a reality that is swept under the rug in most American metropolitan cities. Every bench and ground next to, has a human laying on it. Tens of homeless men and women line the park surrounding Miami’s government building. Each of them with their own story, struggles, and dreams. As we started off our walking lecture professor Bailly began with a sort of word of caution. He wanted to make sure we were all aware of our surroundings and that we understood the severity of the problem of homelessness. Many of these individuals have mental health and substance abuse problems. They are met with rudeness more often than not. Walking past and trying not to stare you can not help but wonder, what their lives have looked like up until this point. Miami is a tough city, built on the misfortune of others.

Before the Spanish settled in Miami there was a group of Native Americans who inhabited the land, the Tequesta. I have written about them before but their contributions to the actual city of Miami were more than what you can even imagine. We walked from the government building across the bridge down a little ally path, to the path along the Miami river. Back when the Tequesta inhabited the land the Miami river was so clear you could see the bottom, there was even a waterfall at a section of it. Now the Miami river is so polluted that the once crystal water is now a greenish brown on a good day. The Tequesta settled the land and built an impressive round structure that historians can not wrap their heads around even today. In miami fashion however, this structure is no longer visible. In its place there is a stretch of green grass encompassed by high rise buildings that people let their dogs defecate on. They put a railing up around where the structure once was, not a single soul other then our class knew what the railing was for. Forgotten and trampled, history seems to be a reoccuring theme in miami. A few blocks over from this amazing Tequestan legacy, we passed a whole foods. Professor Bailly stopped and said “here is a burial mound with 500 tequesta buried underneath.” Developers discovered a burial mound which should be a sacred site. Instead of exhuming the bodies and paying homage to them, they instead built a whole foods right over top of the site.

Photo of the Whole Foods sign mentioned above taken by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0

It was hard walking past the whole foods knowing it was an ancient burial ground. Like the Tequesta site turned dog park I am sure no one in Miami knows they are shopping above 500 Native American bodies.

After the Tequesta were driven out of Miami centuries later Miami began it’s road to incorporation. Flagler decided he was going to continue his railroad all the way to Miami. His reason should not shock you… Money. Central Florida was known for it’s agriculture however, one frigid winter all of the Orange trees Flagler relied on did not produce any fruit. This was a horrible tragedy for Flagler as he would send the oranges up the coast to New York and make a profit from their sales. Someone here in Miami heard that the tree were not producing up north and sent a package of Miami oranges to Flagler. And so he built his railroad, or so the story goes. Much like everything built at the time in Miami, the railroad was built by Black Bahamian workers, conditions were treacherous and their contributions were not recognized. Once the railroad was finished Miami became even more of a destination.

It is hard to wrap your head around the idea, that such a beautiful city was built on the hardship and sacrifice of those less fortunate. The idea that one of the wealthiest cities in America could have so many suffering right outside of it’s government center is absolutely insane. Every time we remember the history of Miami we are met with a reccorance of theme, suffering. It saddens me that much of Miami’s dark history still lives on today.

South Beach as text 2022

Instagram Reel of South Beach walking tour, all video and images by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0

Live free, Love hard, and live in the moment

By Sophia Monica of FIU at South Beach April 1st 2022

An island excavated for tourism, one-of-a-kind art deco buildings almost destroyed for profit, and an entire group of people outcasted in the early years. This is what makes up the South Beach we know today. South Beach used to be a satellite island for a group of Native Americans called the Tequesta, they lived on the mainland but would travel and stay on what is today known as South Beach so they could fish the waters of the Atlantic. Back then South Beach was completely covered in mangroves. These mangroves acted as a barrier for harsh hurricanes and were vital to the ecosystem of the island. When South Beach was first being developed it was decided that the mangroves had to go, developers excavated the island and imported sand from various parts of the world. The white sand beaches we know, and love today are fake, every year more sand is brought in to keep the illusion going. If you have ever been to South Beach, you would have been met with crystal clear blue water and white sand. You probably would not have noticed a lack of marine life or vegetation. When developers got rid of the mangroves, all the fish, vegetation, and wildlife went with it. Also, the natural hurricane barrier was destroyed, which is one of the main reasons why when hurricanes hit Miami they hit hard.

 If you move inland off the beaches you are met with Ocean Drive, the iconic South Beach street. Like most of South Beach it is lined with different types of buildings, Art deco, Mediterranean revival, Streamline Modern. Art deco is the most iconic building on the island. There are no other representations of this building style anywhere else in the world. It is unique to South Beach. It follows a rule of three meaning they usually stand three stories tall. Art deco buildings also have curved edges, porthole windows, and lots of neon lights. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s there was a great debate as to whether the city should redevelop Ocean Drive and demolish these iconic art deco buildings and replace them with high rise buildings similar to the ones found in Fort Lauderdale. With a lot of conversations and protests ultimately it was decided to keep these wonderful historic buildings. I am so glad they did because the art deco buildings that line the streets of South Beach not only give it unmistakable character but also define a culture.

As we walked along Ocean Drive, we were met with a bar called the Palace. Back in the early 2000s this bar was hardly frequented but today the lines to get in go down the block. Palace is a drag bar, they are best known for their drag brunch where they put on a one-of-a-kind performance while patrons sit eat, drink, and tip. South Beach has been an American epicenter for the LGBTQ+ community since the 60’s. It has always been a place of acceptance and understanding of sexuality. In its early years it was not well known, no celebrities frequented South Beach in those years. It was hard to get to. In the 1990s a man by the name of Gianni Versace was visiting Miami on a business trip and decided he wanted to check out South Beach. He was met with a feeling like no other. He decided he wanted to buy a piece of land and build his palace. The Versace Mansion is right in the middle of all the action on Ocean Drive. He changed the image of South Beach forever, with his celebrity status and influence people from all over the world came to the beach. Versace’s sexuality and being openly gay also impacted South Beach. Without his influence South Beach would not be a destination.

While South Beach was accepting of sexuality it was not accepting of race. Like much of Miami, South Beach in the early 21st century was developed by Black Bahamians. These workers built the iconic art deco buildings, developed Fischer Island, and helped excavate the mangroves. Once their work was done however, they were not allowed on the beach or to stay at any of the hotels. Which was quite interesting because before the railroad was brought to Miami blacks, Jews, and whites alike could be found frequenting the island and beaches. Before Fischer island was built it used to be the only black beach on South Beach. When the island was sold to Fischer, he decided he wanted to build luxury condos for the wealthy, the black beach was no more. If black individuals wanted so swim, they would have to go to Virginia Key. When the civil rights movement started in the second half of the 1960s many sit ins, protests, and peace walks were conducted on South Beach. The locals at the time wanted a progressive South Beach and did what they could to make that dream a reality. Blacks and Whites alike shaped the city.

South Beach was one of my favorite tours this semester. I enjoyed the complex history, the diversity in both people and architecture, and the sense of acceptance that encompasses South Beach. Seeing my classmates jump off the south pointe pier, I was filled with what I can only describe as the Miami vibe. Live free, love hard, and be in the moment. I did not get the opportunity to jump off the pier as there was a security guard watching, just as I was about to jump in. Figures!

Sophia Monica

Help fund my study abroad in France. Photo of Sophia in front of a mural in Wynwood


%d bloggers like this: