Interview with Georgia Ayers

What happened to it?


I will tell you a little story ah, that I heard Governor Graham say after the 1980 disturbances when he made a speech to the Black Lawyers Association. And I was really flabbergasted when I heard these words coming out of his mouth. He said, and I quote, "Like Georgia Ayers said, urban renewal killed Overtown," and that's exactly what happened. But I can recall years ago when I said to the system here that the Whites really wants Overtown because it's just a stone throw from Flagler Street and they wanted to expand. And I said, eventually the Whites are going to do to--to Overtown what they did to the subdivision where I grew up, that they will eventually get it. Now they're to Northwest 8th Street and I think the only thing that's keeping them back is you have the ah, Baptist Church there, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and you have Greater Bethel AME Church, which is the church that I grew up in the early '30s. Ah, they have those two monuments to Blacks there and they just don't know how to confront the system or to confront the Black community to go further s--north, to expand the downtown area. They have taken everything but the, up to those two churches. They've taken the Mary Elizabeth, the Sir John, the ah, old Nightbeat which was part of the Sir John Hotel. Ah, they have the Carver Hotel which uh was--in my opinion, ah, should have not been taken away from Blacks , but that's just a building standing there that's, it's nothing there. Urban renewal and the need for Whites to expand. And I'll go further than that. Since the Latin ah, populations in Dade County, they are looking to expand downtown for the say, South American businesses to come into the county. And I resent it, but being a poor Black there's nothing I can do about it but try and roll with the punches and try to make this community better for everybody. Since it's here you can't change it. So I remember the old slogan that ah, God grant me the serenity to accept the change whatever it may be. And that's the way I try to deal with--but I don't like it.