Damian Marley Honors Earth Day With ‘Life Is a Circle’

Video tells the segregated history of Miami’s Virginia Key Beach Park

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Damian Marley celebrates Earth Day with the new song “Life Is a Circle,” featuring a video telling the segregated history of Miami’s Virginia Key Beach Park.

Directed by B+, the clip sees Marley standing on the historic beach as title cards and footage explain its history: Black Americans were not allowed on most beaches during segregation. In the spring of 1945, civil rights activists supported by the local NAACP chapter staged a “wade-in” at a whites-only beach, resulting in the opening of Virginia Key — Miami’s first black-only beach. Following its closure in 1982, the abandoned beach was overgrown with invasive plants and animals, suffering vandalism and hurricanes. City officials wanted to sell it but they were stopped by grassroots organizers and the beach was restored. It reopened in 2008.

Marley tells Rolling Stone that “Life Is a Circle” has been under his belt for years; he first demoed it for 2017’s Stony Hill. “This song sounds like you should put it out this year,” he says. “We spent many hours speaking on this in the studio. It’s been a quiet year for me lyrically. I haven’t put out any other song — I did very few songs for myself this last 12 months. This song captures our loss. We’ve lost a whole heap of things, people, history. And maybe this song won’t make sense now, but in 10 years when we think of this period it will make sense.”

“We headed to Miami really without a finished plan,” B+ said of the video. “But even location scouting didn’t go well. With Covid, pulling a permit became complicated. I went to scout the beach above Virginia Key Beach and somehow I drifted the wrong way and ended up in the park. The locations guy from our production was adamant that I shouldn’t shoot there, that we were very likely to be shut down. I insisted that at least if we shot this way we might actually get a video but the other beach was just very stereotypical. With Damian 10 minutes away an ATV pulled up with two park rangers on board. My locations guy said, ‘Told you.'”

The director told the rangers that they were shooting a video for Damian Marley. They allowed them to continue and relayed the history of the beach. “This video is pure serendipity,” Marley says. “Spiritually we say it was meant to be, everything worked in our favor. Good brings good. Jah is connecting the dots for us; it has become bigger than us. I feel most honored about discovering a piece of history that we didn’t know about… and now it is a privilege to be able to share that with the world.”

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