The Miami Dolphins continued their efforts to expand cultural horizons when they teamed up with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau for their second FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural tour experiencing historical locations throughout Miami.
Current players Jalen Davis and Jamiyus Pittman joined alumni Sean Clancy, Troy Drayton, Eddie Hill and Sam Madison, as well as Dolphins staff and cheerleaders, in spending a day with local youth, community leaders and law enforcement to experience the richness and diversity of the area.
On this day, the group visited the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, the Jewish Museum of Florida and The Palace, a restaurant famous for its drag shows.
"I think it gives the Dolphins a different level of engagement with the community … it's not just a football team," Consul General of Israel Lior Haiat said. "It makes them part of this community and makes the community part of the team as well. I think it is so important that the players and the team have this inside look where they play. It's not just coming every Sunday to a game to play and having all those people coming to see you, it's being part of this amazing diverse society that is Miami. I think the basic word about it is education, and what they are doing is true education. Educating kids, educating staff members, educating the players about the history of Miami and the reality in Miami brings us all together."
The tour began with a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, where the group heard from Holocaust survivor Laszlo Selly and later toured the facility.
"Unless we tell the story to the new generation, the young generation, then there is a good chance that it (Holocaust) will happen again and they are the only ones who can do something to avert this," Selly said. "It's up to them to stop the hatred because hatred brings things like this. I think it's (FOOTBALL UNITES™) a very important program to bring the kids together and expose them to knowledge about the Holocaust and I think it is a wonderful thing to do and its very worthwhile. It's the best thing that I think can be done to the children and to humanity in general."
At the Palace, the group met with female impersonator Missy LaPaige.
"As a FOOTBALL UNITES™ partner and leader in the LGBT community, I'm ecstatic that we are at Palace, which is really the epicenter for LGBT culture here in South Florida and to have an amazing performer like Missy LaPaige join us to help break down some of those barriers of understanding and help share that message of inclusivity, love and respect, is an incredibly important thing," Executive Director of SAVE Tony Lima said. "That is the base line message for Football Unites; it's about inclusivity, love, respect and really being able to work together in unison. I am so proud to be part of the Football Unites family because it says a lot about the Dolphins, a football team, within a realm that hasn't necessarily in the past celebrated LGBT rights or inclusivity. I think the Dolphins are doing an amazing thing. I think more teams should be doing what the Dolphins are doing for the community at large. In my case specifically with the LGBT community, the fact that this program is focused on social justice as a whole and working with such a myriad of different organizations doing amazing work in the community, says a lot about the Dolphins."
"It was important to hear the message so we can break the barriers and boundaries so that everyone can know that we are still human beings," LePaige said. "It's all about love and unity and we are really thankful for accepting us and not judging us and just fellowshipping with us, I think it's awesome."
This tour marks the second of four FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural Tours scheduled throughout the year. These unique experiences are a result of a joint partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The team is scheduled to visit locations throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County, including the African American Research Library, Liberty City and Little Haiti.
"To be able to bring all these kids and have an opportunity for them to see where they live and the background of it is really good and for the Dolphins to do it on a consistent basis just shows how deeply embedded they are into the community," Madison said. "This is my second cultural tour and once again I'm learning something totally different about Miami that I had no idea. At the beginning, we went to the Holocaust memorial and we had the opportunity to meet a Holocaust survivor just to hear his story, be able to put your hand on him and feel the passion that he had, that was really one of the touching moments for us. Also to understand the LGBT community on South Beach and then the Jewish Museum to go in and see those things that are right there next door to you but you really don't know the history.
"I've toured South Beach many times, many years and never really understood the real rich tradition of what went on before us. But to continue to do these cultural tours I think we're learning a lot more and being able to give back as well because we're understanding more of what's going on in our community now."