T.D. Allman Revisits Miami’s Evolution at FIU Book Talk

T.D. AllmanT.D. Allman during Book Talk | Maria Matos, PantherNOW

Maria Matos | Contributing Writer

Acclaimed author and former Vanity Fair foreign correspondent T.D. Allman recently visited FIU to discuss his notable work “Miami: City of the Future” and the evolution of Miami’s identity over the decades since its publication in the 1980s. 

At the Apr. 2 Book Talk, several FIU staff and students joined T.D. Allman as he spoke of his books, “Finding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State” and “Miami: City of the Future.” 

Allman’s book captured Miami at a unique crossroads, transitioning from a sleepy Southern town to the multicultural metropolis it is today. His insightful portrayal resonated deeply with locals who were tired of Miami being denigrated by outsiders who failed to grasp its rich history and complexities.

Allman opened the floor to questions about himself and his process in writing the books, as well as discussion on what attendees thought the future held for Miami, both culturally and environmentally. 

During the discussion, Allman reflected on his initial immersion into the diverse fabric of Miami in the 1980s. He also noted the transformative impact of immigration and the tensions surrounding development and historic preservation in Miami.  

Attendees voiced concerns about the survival of Miami in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. Several in the audience then jokingly remarked how Miami would always exist if the wealthy decided to “build mansions on stilts.” 

The conversation delved into Miami’s struggle to honor its rich history amid rampant growth. Allman lamented the tendency to tear down architectural gems in favor of new developments, echoing audience concerns over the loss of indigenous sites and historic homes to commercialization.  

Linda Roberton from the Miami Herald added to the discussion, asking “Why do you [Allman] think we have no respect for our history here? We tear down beautiful buildings and build horrible developments over them.”

 Allman answered simply with, “I will say one thing: money.” 

Yet he expressed optimism about FIU’s role in shaping an educated populace that can drive positive change. 

“They [students] are now getting good, advanced degrees. They’re on this magnificent campus and they’re all able to do good things,” Allman said.

Towards the end of the event, Elizabeth Tetrault, Community Engagement and Advocacy Advisor from FIU’s Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership proposed an intriguing idea – developing a T.D. Allman certificate course that equips students with a commanding grasp of history for navigating civic leadership, an idea Allman seemed interested in pursuing.

Developments of this potential course will be discussed at the Apr. 10 staff meeting.

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