Interview with Otis Pitts

Now, you talked about the economic isolation of Overtown in the Black community. Tell me what you meant by that and how did that happen?


Well, you know, of course being in the South, I mean, you know, ah, we actually in fact had both de jure and de facto segregation. So, a lot of the isolation, ah, just remained over time. And as the larger community grew, etcetera, in spite of integration. I mean it didn't include the Black community. Ah, it just grew around it in effect. And a lot of the, you know the viability and the growth of Miami, et cetera, never included the Black community. It continued to shrink pretty much and, ah, almost in some cases, I guess, I'll describe as dying on the vine. You know a lot of what was viable in the community, ah, really was sort of skimmed away into a larger community, a lot of the night life as such that often attracted Whites and others to our community, those entertainers that were, you know, the best as such were, were then working in White clubs, you know, so there was no need for the White community to come to our community anymore. I mean a lot of, ah, what we had in the way of food, etcetera, conch salad, which was something that people came to Overtown to get was now being sold in White restaurants. You know, so we found a lot of what we had was sort of gleaned away or skimmed off and taken to a larger community and, ah. So, it lost a lot of its viability. And, everything was built around there and even today, I mean, there's been no real effort to include the Black communities in the overall planning that occurs, ah, in this town. I mean there's planning around it. There's planning which displaces this community. Ah, there have plans that have included parts of the community but not to for the benefit of the indigenous population but rather to track others into the area and often those others just on the mere, on the mere basis of pricing of the housing, etcetera as a result of the allowed displacement of Blacks in this community.