Parallel Lives, A WPBT2 Original Production
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This is the real-life story of two women born and raised in Miami, Florida, both of whom pursued careers as historians. Close in age they watched a city grow from a sleepy town to a major urban center. Their lives might be identical save for one major difference - one woman is black, the other is white, each lived different yet amazingly parallel lives.
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Parallel Lives is an Original Production of WPBT2. The 30 minute documentary is narrated by Julia Yarbough and will be broadcast on WPBT2 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. It is the story of two women Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields and Arva Moore Parks both grew up in a segregated Miami. Though separated by only a few miles, their upbringings could not have been more different. Their lives nearly touched on many occasions yet each was unaware of the other. In their journey to discover the past, it was history that finally brought them together.

In 1974, Dorothy Fields was an African-American librarian at an all white school in Opa Locka with a special assignment to prepare a black history celebration for the nation’s bi-centennial. Fields’ quest began at the downtown Miami Public Library where she hoped to find at least fifteen or twenty books about blacks. But the closest thing she could find was a folder containing the obituaries of black people. Some history, she thought.

Not far away at the Historical Association of Southern Florida she crossed paths with a white historian, Arva Moore Parks, who was researching the black history of Coconut Grove. They soon discovered their common interest in Miami’s history and the fact that both had witnessed it, but through different cultural experiences.

Dottie and Arva became fast friends. They remembered the turbulent fifties and sixties when Fields couldn’t sit at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, but Parks could, when blacks were arrested for mixing with whites, and when the Orange Bowl restricted black patrons to the end zone.

Despite this social turmoil, Fields and Parks found striking similarities in their lives. Both came from educated, middle class homes that shared the same values. Both had mothers who were teachers. Both went to college and earned Masters Degrees. Both put their husbands through law school and divorced. And both raised children.

Fields founded Miami’s Black History Archive and led the movement to preserve Overtown’s historic Lyric Theater. Parks became a noted South Florida historian and preservationist with a number of books to her credit including “The New Miami: The Magic City”.

Fields says, “Our friendship runs deep and wide both professionally and personally – through hills and valleys we have survived and succeeded as women, mothers and individuals who are contributing to society.” According to Parks, “It’s like walking parallel lines in the same parade. We have this place in common, and this place built our friendship.”

Parallel Lives is a public television documentary that tells the story of two women who led very different yet amazingly complementary lives. While they grew up in Miami, their experiences of the city, its history, and its culture were seen through vastly different lenses. One was white; the other black. Their lives touched on numerous occasions yet each was unaware of the other. But it was history that finally brought their lives together.

Get the Parallel Lives DVD and Support Original Productions at WPBT2.