Published On: Tue, Sep 12th, 2023

At The Intersection of History, Black Culture and South Florida Is “Crossing Overtown”: Special Documentary Screening Comes to Delray

Overtown Police Chief Delrish Moss

October 11

The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County present a special documentary that spotlights an American story of race and resilience

Delray Beach, FL – In a first-time collaboration, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) welcome audiences to learn more about the compelling origins of Overtown, a Miami city that encapsulates the indomitable spirit of the African American metropolis.

In their one-hour documentary, “Crossing Overtown,” Jewish filmmakers Scott Barnett and Johanna Vega delve into the unique role that Overtown plays in the national civil rights movement and its influence on other predominantly Black cities. The film tracks the legacy of Jim Crow America in South Florida and how black residents’ response to racism and discrimination would eventually lead to the nation’s only Black Precinct and Colored Courtroom in the Historic Village of Overtown.

Presented by the Spady Museum and sponsored by the JCRC, a special screening of “Crossing Overtown” will be hosted at the Cornell Museum of Old School Square at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, 2023. Donations to the Spady Museum will be requested in lieu of an entrance fee.

A panel comprised of the filmmakers, historians and social justice activists featured in the film will follow the screening. Audiences can ask questions of Barnett, Vega, Overtown resident and Police Chief Delrish Moss, Dr. Tameka Hobbs (moderator), and HistoryMiami Museum Resident Historian, Dr. Paul George. Chief Moss plays a significant role in the film, carrying the reforms he led in Overtown to a police department in need of healing in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown in 2014. His unique reforms would influence the national dialogue on community policing.

“So much of what is revealed in ‘Crossing Overtown,’ – from the origins of the tumultuous relationship between law enforcement and the black communities it served to government’s discriminatory practices that deterred true equity – is the story of other Black cities,” said Spady Museum Director Charlene Farrington. “Scott Barnett and Joanna Vega tell an honest, accurate tale of how Black cities came to be and how they continue to survive.”

The film explores how the creation of Flagler’s railroad led to the segregated areas of South Florida cities, including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as the workers needed somewhere to live, while they built the railroad. Both Blacks and Jews were later restricted from hotels and entertainment venues in Palm Beach and Miami Beach, a phenomenon that was not unique throughout the U.S.  

JCRC Director Marissa Trowbridge views the film as an important addition to the ongoing conversation about history, race relations and local relationships.

“Federation wants to help facilitate conversations that will help everyone understand each other a bit better, no matter their culture or background, because we cannot progress without being informed and empathetic,” Trowbridge said. “It is important that we understand the legacy of Overtown, its residents and its resiliency. Its story is a national story; it is our story and we have to grasp our history, in order to improve our future. That Jewish filmmakers were at the helm of this project makes us very proud.”

About the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (JFSPBC)

Established in 1979, the JFSPBC is made up of Jewish and social service organizations, synagogues and schools that provide valued services and programs to recipients in South Palm Beach County, in Israel and around the world. The JFSPBC is also comprised of local residents, including lay leadership, volunteer, donors, professional staff, rabbis, educators, event participants and students. Situated on a 100-acre campus in west Boca Raton – the largest in the nation – the JFSPBC supports more than 70 beneficiaries, engages with more than 5,000 donors, and connects more than 130,000 residents. To learn more about how we contribute to a shared vision for the Jewish community, visit or call 561.852.3100.

About the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum

Opened in 2001, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is the only cultural center of its kind in Palm Beach County. Located at 170 NW Fifth Avenue in Delray Beach, it is dedicated to showcasing the contributions of the African Diaspora to Florida and the U.S. Programs include exhibitions, museum tours, and community events. Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; Mondays by appointment. Closed Sundays. Admission: $20; Members are free. For more information, call 561-279-8883 or visit  


What: Special screening of “Crossing Overtown,” a documentary on the origins, development and influence of the Black city of Overtown and its residents, followed by a panel discussion featuring the film’s personalities, local historians and activists

When: 6 p.m., Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Where: Cornell Museum at Old School Square, 51 Swinton Avenue, Delray Beach, FL

Cost: FREE; donation to the Spady Museum requested


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