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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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TELL THE STORY
September 3, 1997
(Ms. Yvonne Daily): I am Yvonne Daily and today is 3, 1997.
I'm at Mr. Radie Jackson's home and I'm about to conduct an
interview with him for the Black Archives.
Well, Mr. Jackson I am about ready to start the interview and
the first set of questions, I'll ask you will be regarding family
Where were your parents born?
(Mr. Radie Jackson): Virginia, Cray County.
(Ms. Daily): Did they ever live in Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): No.
(Ms. Daily): Where were your grandparents born?
(Mr. Jackson): I don't exactly know that but I think it was
Virginia or North Carolina.
(Ms. Daily): Did they ever live in Overtown.
(Mr. Jackson): No. No they didn't.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe what it was like growing up
in your parent's household?
(Mr. Jackson): Well, it was ah real nice but ah we worked
hard, we cut timber, we picked chickens, we did--raised cattle, we
raised ah turkeys at one time and shipped them into to market. Ah,
my daddy ah was in contact called the Switch Company so he would
pack chickens in ice in a barrel and ice the barrel down, of
course, this was in the winter time and would ah take it to the
train station and ship it off to ah some company and we shipped
turkeys too for several years. So that's the way my daddy made his
living on farm, we was on a farm back in the country in Cray County
(Ms. Daily): And umm was the whole family ah involved in this
(Mr. Jackson): The whole family, it was about 10 of us at
this time, at least 8, my daddy raised about 12 children and ah it
was 15 of us born but we raised about 12 and at this time that I'm
speaking about is 19 and 20, ah well 19 and 17 and 19 and 18 is
what I'm speaking about now, when we raised chickens on the farm
and sold them.
(Ms. Daily): Now regarding employment umm from 1945 to 1970,
umm this has to do--well-yes between those years, describe the jobs
(Mr. Jackson): Repeat the question, I didn't quite--
(Ms. Daily): So these, this set of questions is regarding
employment from 1945 to 1970. 1945 to 1970, so the first question
asked, describe the jobs you had between those years.
(Mr. Jackson): In 1945 I was in the restaurant business and
that was during the war and I was doing very well. Umm, everything
was rationed but some how or another, I still able to get some
meats and stuff to sell, ah go to the country and buy chickens on
foot and dress umm and sell umm. Sometimes I could get a hog that
was already dressed and sell it and then that way I was able to
keep food in my restaurant cause there was very much ration during
them years ah I was in the restaurant business up until 19 and 50.
(Ms. Daily): Where were, where did you have that business,
where did you run that business?
(Mr. Jackson): 1900. 919 Northwest Second Avenue.
(Ms. Daily): Is that Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): That's Overtown.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, and what years did you say you ran the
(Mr. Jackson): I opened up in December, 19 and 41 and ah I
kept it until ah sometime during the early '50s and I sold it out.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, what kind of hours did you work?
(Mr. Jackson): My hours was long, I ah, I would go to the
market early in the morning around 6:00 o'clock and I would close
at night, say around 12:30 or say sometime 2:00. Most of the time
when a band or something like that was in town, I almost stayed
open around the clock and ah sometime I would do 16, 18 hours a day
and sometimes longer, it'd depend on the business that was coming
(Ms. Daily): When and why did you close down your business?
(Mr. Jackson): I developed a stomach ulcer, and went to a
doctor in New York that was practicing on Plaza Street in Brooklyn
and ah, he told me that the, the restaurant work was too stressful
and causing too much excitement in my life and I would have to do
something more quite and if I did, he could give me some sort of
shot that the had to cure the ulcers. I had read about him in the-
-it was a Miami Herald paper that they use to publish, ah it was a
magazine that the Miami Herald published that wrote about Dr.
Burnstein, and I wrote him and that's how I come in contact with
him. He told me I'd have to lead a more quieter life and ah I
decided that, that was the best to get rid of the restaurant
because I was working like sometime 18 hours a day.
(Ms. Daily): So was that the only form of employment you had?
What did you do after?
(Mr. Jackson): After that I joined the Painters' Union. Ah
they was trying to organize a Painters' Union in Miami and finally
the AFL-CIO decided that they would give us a Paint Union and I
joined the Painters' Union and started doing light painting around
on Miami Beach and different places and from there I started
contracting painting and I did painting behind ah Mr. Braggs's
construction company. He had a construction company going and he
give me job painting behind him for several years, and after that
I joined painting behind ah Charlie Powell, was another company--
Charlie Powell and Finks was ah head of a plumbing company, Finks
Plumbing Company so I painted behind them several years then I
started doing building and ah I built a place on Ninth Street at
141 Northwest Ninth Street. I lived there 3 years, that's a two-
story building with about 20 something rooms. I first had an idea
that it would be restaurant downstairs and livable quarters
upstairs but then people moved out of Overtown so fast after the
war until the restaurant business didn't look favorable so I ah
converted that into rooms so I had something like about 20 rooms.
I could rent as many rooms as I had because I--the place was new,
it was plenty ventilation, we didn't have air conditioning at that
time but I had large windows in it where it would get plenty
ventilation. I stayed there for 3 years and sold it out to a Cuban
named Simon Peeping and ah then I took a lease back and ran the
place and in the meantime I came to Opa Locka and built a twenty-
room rooming house, at least it was twenty-three rooms in the
rooming house and continued to run that, operate that and ah, and
in the meantime I had leased on the ah place at 41--141 Northwest
Ninth Street and operate that for Simon for--I don't know how many
years now, I turned it over to my daughter and she stayed there a
while so ah..I must have kept it and kept a lease on it for 10 or
(Ms. Daily): So ah, you shifted from the restaurant business
to real estate, okay ah, how did you--I notice you were a
businessman, you did your own, you were self-employed--
(Mr. Jackson): Always.
(Ms. Daily): Ah, so how did you really get started? Did umm
you have anybody who start you or you just go on your own
initiative? How did you find work?
(Mr. Jackson): Well ah, I was ah, in 19 and 34 I was ah
clerking in ah West Virginia Hotel in White Sulfur Springs and ah
I got fired from that job because I choose to go to the Worlds Fair
which was being held in Chicago and my boss got angry with me
because I went to the World Fair. I gave him a replacement but he
still wasn't pleased so when the season went down, he fired me in
October, 19 and 34 and ah I choose to come to Miami at that time
and settled in Overtown. Worked at different jobs like ah
cafeterias and things. The last cafeteria job I had was Hoffman's
Cafeteria, a company that moved out of New York and set up a nice
place on ah Espanola Drive and Collins Avenue and that was the last
cafeteria job that I had so I saved money and went into the
restaurant business in 19 and 41.
(Ms. Daily): How did you get to work, did you have your own
(Mr. Jackson): I bought my first automobile when I was 16
years old in White Sulfur Springs. At that time it was very, very
hard for young people or anybody to buy a car.- Usually you'd have
to have a co-signer or sumpin nuther but some how or another I save
enough money to ah buy an automobile and I was only 16 at that
time. I was turning 17 in and I bought the car in June.
(Ms. Daily): Okay.
(Mr. Jackson): And that was before they was issuing drivers'
licenses, you ah, you, you got your car and ah some how or nuther,
the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, that financed your
automobile, they sent you a permit to drive and that was all you
had and ah later on they started to ah issue drivers' licenses.
(Ms. Daily): Okay. Where did the other members of your
(Mr. Jackson): Well they begin in the coal mine after they
left the farm but ah I never did work in the coal mine but my ah
two brother did most of the coal mine working but ah, after I got
into the business myself, I employed a lot of my own people. My,
my younger brother worked for me and ah 3 or 4 of my sisters worked
for me at different times. What?
(Ms. Daily): Beginning in the late 1950's many immigrants
moved to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti and other
countries. Did those immigrants compete with Overtown residents
(Mr. Jackson): I would say they did because I, I worked, some
Jamaican usually cleaned my place. Ah in the afternoon I would
close up for a certain amount of hours and ah have them to come in
clean and so I know that I employed two Jamaicans and several of
the businessmen on the Avenue did employee or Jamaicans and ah
people from the Bahamas.
(Ms. Daily): Do you recall people moving into the area from
over--out of town other than the Caribbean, other area in the umm
(Mr. Jackson): Moving into Overtown? Oh, yes ah, ah I was
acquainted with several people that moved from the Dominican
Republic and from Jamaica and from the Bahamian Islands. Ah, I'm
not sure, oh yes from Cuba too. So I had a very good friend from
Cuba and ah went to '49 because he wanted me to see if I could get
his girlfriend over to the United States but at that time, it was--
restrictions was very stiff. They didn't allow her in so she came
on the plane with me to Key West but we had to put a $15,000 bond
in order for her to enter the United States and ah she had to have
so much money and the only reason they let her come was that they
said she could do shopping, she came to do shopping so they allowed
her in for 30 days and that's, that's how strong the restriction
was at that time but ah it seemed later they dropped the strenuous
(Ms. Daily): Ah but were the other people from other areas
like perhaps moving from other states into Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, from Georgia. I met ah people from
Georgia. Ah there was a lot people coming from like Georgia.
Especially after the war. A lot of people come from Georgia and
Alabama, too. A deal of people after the war migrated to Miami.
(Ms. Daily): Where did they live in Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Well they get in ah like the Carver Hotel, the
Dorsey Hotel, was another, was several rooming houses, a lot of
people took in roomers and at that time it was a strong restriction
against taking women in, especially good looking women. They
didn't want the--landlady didn't want good looking women because
they say they always get in fight with they boyfriends so they
didn't allow, they didn't want to accept good looking women into
their rooming houses and ah in order to get rooms for a lot of
girls I had to make, I had to recommend them and if I recommend
them being in business and recommend them to the landlady, why she
would accept them and I remember girls being migrated from Virginia
and Georgia and different places and ah, they would come to me to
recommend them to get into a rooming house but the hotels was open
but the hotels was a little more expensive where the rooming house
was only about $10.00 a week at that time.
(Ms. Daily): What sort of jobs did they have when they moved
in? What kind of jobs did they--
(Mr. Jackson): Waitress jobs, house cleaning, there was a lot
of, lot of people in them days wanted a house cleaner for a day,
house cleaner for 2 days, such as that and ah, of course, around
Second Avenue there was waitresses, jobs for waitresses and thing,
the Rockland Palace and different places. I had 5 or 6 girls
regular working for me and on the weekend I employed 2 or 3 more.
So ah they picked up little jobs like that. It wasn't many jobs
that Black people could do in them days.
(Ms. Daily): Ah the set of questions umm I'll ask is
regarding business and you said you were a businessman and that you
did the restaurant business and ah later on you went into real
estate ah, where was your business located?
(Mr. Jackson): 919 Northwest Second Avenue.
(Ms. Daily): And ah also when you did the house, the rooming
house, was it at that location too?
(Mr. Jackson): 141 Northwest Ninth Street.
(Ms. Daily): Who were your employees in the restaurant
(Mr. Jackson): Verbeen is one, Verbeenia Williams she was at
that time. Odessa Falson, Evelyn Pittman, and there was many more
but I can't call all of umm name. My sister Glenola, my sister
Frances, she's Frances Green now and ah my sister worked for my in
the kitchen, Estell, Estella, and my brother Curtiss worked for me
doing those years and ah, Julia Jerkins, yes and ah a lady named
Mary, I can't think of her last name. Oh, ah Lillian Bradshaw was
a girl that worked for me. She had just finished I think ah
college at Bethune Cookman, well she had went to college some at
Bethune Cookman and she worked for me as a waitress for quite a
while. Gertrude Brooks worked for me as a waitress. Matter fact
she was the head waitress for several years.
(Ms. Daily): How did you find your employees?
(Mr. Jackson): Ah, make to me.
(Ms. Daily): How did you--ah did you put an advertisement out
or did they come to you.
(Mr. Jackson): Naw, from, from ah, just ah word of mouth.
(Ms. Daily): Association, okay.
(Mr. Jackson): Yeah, umm hum.
(Ms. Daily): Who were your customers?
(Mr. Jackson): Army people, local people. Sometime a ship
would come into Key West and dock, I would have a lot of sailors
and ah people from the army on furlough or something and, and local
people, the doctors, that ah, the doctors in town, the ah managers
of the restaurants--I mean mangers of the hotel, Evelyn ah Evans,
ran the Dorsey Hotel, she was one of good customers, Dr. Farr that
ran the funeral home was one of my good customers and Dr. Smith
that had an office on Third was always a good customer and I had a
lot of good customers out of the local people and when ah band came
to town like Louis Armstrong or Erskin Hawkins or something like
that, they was always my customers and ah Catherine Denim, Dunnum
came with her dance group. Ah yeah, I think it was--what you call
a dance group. Anyway they performed at the Rockland and then they
went to Fort Lauderdale and performed but they'd always come back
and eat with me. Yeah, Buddy Johnson was one of my customers always
and it seemed to me band, some band was there about every month ah
like Buddy Johnson, Erskin Hawkins, Tabb Smith ah Louis Armstrong
ah Cooie Williams, there was others, oh ah Chick Webb was there in
'41 but I think sometime after that he passed.
(Ms. Daily): I don't remember if I asked you the name of your
(Mr. Jackson): Jackson's Restaurant.
(Ms. Daily): Whom did you consider your main competition?
(Mr. Jackson): The Chop Suey were the only people, there was
ah, ah--they was ah China mens, yeah and they, they served a dish
that was cheap and ah that was about the only competition that I
had. They, they had a lot of bean spouts or something like that
but less meat you know because meat was hard to get at that time.
Meats was hard to come by, chicken or anything was hard to come by.
(Ms. Daily): When and why did you move or close the business?
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, because of sickness, umm hum.
(Ms. Daily): Did you ever change, well yes. Did you ever
change he location of your business?
(Mr. Jackson): Ah yes it was changed at one time. Ah when I
first opened up in 1941 I was at 1021 Northwest Second Avenue.
That was close to Eleventh Street and when I applied for a building
the next time from Elliot R. Books, he told me that ah, that 1021
was rented and I would have to accept something else so I accepted
919 Northwest Second Avenue which was actually a better location.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, how successful was the relocation?
(Mr. Jackson): Very successful. During the war I did very
well. Ah that's how I went into real estate because I continued to
buy real estate during the restaurant run.
(Ms. Daily): Umr was that the only restaurant you had or did
you have others?
(Mr. Jackson): Well, up north I had ah place with someone
else, we, we was partners in a business up north and ah that was
the McKennzie Restaurant. A fellow by the name of Jim McKennzie a
possession of the place and he needed one to operate so we, I
operated for 50-50, on a 50-50 base.
(Ms. Daily): So umm the Jackson Restaurant was the only one
you had in Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Right.
(Ms. Daily): Now this other set of questions ah regarding, is
regarding neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970. Could you
describe your place of residence?
(Mr. Jackson): 19 and 45? 1945 I was living on Second Avenue
at 19--919 Northwest Second Avenue, upstairs over the restaurant
and after I sold out then I moved on Seventh Street and resided for
a while and the meantime I built the place at 141 Northwest Ninth
Street and ah moved in that. I had two apartments upstairs and 20
rooms I moved in one of the apartments and resided there until I
finished the place in Opa Locka and then I moved into the Opa
(Ms. Daily): Who lived in your household at that time?
(Mr. Jackson): Well it was just me and my brother and I had
one daughter that came from ah early marriage that came to live
with me. Ah well, at different times, I had 3 different daughters
to come live with me at different times.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, could you describe the street where you
(Mr. Jackson): In Overtown or, or?
(Ms. Daily): Yes, in Overtown.
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, it was Second Avenue, Northwest Second
(Ms. Daily): What was it like?
(Mr. Jackson): What was it like? It was very busy because,
ha! they, Black people was limited to a certain area and so that
area was very populated because they couldn't go anywhere else in
peace and ah the business was very ah good, it was people on the
street, all the time, going and coming, the businesses was
flourishing. Ah Bill Rivers had ah the Rockland Palace that kept
busy all the time and ah, my place was busy, I think Evelyn Evens
was operating the Dorsey Hotel, her place was rather busy. The
Carwell Hotel, that was on ah Sixth Street between Sixth and
Eighth, between Seventh and Eighth Street it was. They, they ah,
they was pretty busy with people, people stayed in them hotels and
umm the Sawyer Hotel, yeah, Mary Elizabeth was on Seventh Street
and ah he was running a first-class hotel then, very nice, Dr.
Sawyer. He was a doctor and he added on to his hotel and made it
a very nice place ah he had a daughter that ah went to the
legislature. Gwen Cherry was her name. A lot of people Overtown
should remember Gwen Cherry, Gwendolyn Cherry and ah she use to
patronize my place a lot. It was a rather place for the young
people to sort of hang out at that time and her brother was Bill
Sawyer. Bill Sawyer, I think still lives Overtown as far as I
(Ms. Daily): Yes he does.
(Mr. Jackson): And he went flying. I don't know if he was
every able to see very much but the Elizabeth Hotel is tore down
(Ms. Daily): Umm hum.
(Mr. Jackson): Yeah, all them places is destroyed. Umm hum.
(Ms. Daily): Who were your neighbors?
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, like in business ah, ah, ah otherwise? I
was pretty busy with ah my business that I didn't do much
socializing except ah I was in several clubs like businessmen clubs
that ah our duty was to try to better the ah town for the Black
people and we was always holding meeting several places trying to
do--trying to better the Black people and ah at one time, during ah
Ernest Overstreet, he was the Tax Collector and he didn't allow the
Black people to stand in line and receive their drivers' license
and their car license like he did the others and we got a committee
and went to him to find out why. So he give us some excuses and he
said soon they would build a place out on Twenty-second, out on
Seventh Avenue near Twenty-Second Street or past Twenty-Second
Street and at that time that he would allow the Black people to
stand in line and get license the same as the Colored but we had
went through a whole lot. Dr. Elmer Ward was our spokesman and we
had meetings at ah Evelyn Evans lobby in the Dorsey Hotel and we
bought Ernest Overstreet up there several times to grill him to
what he would do for the Black people and ah finally we beat him
down to where he really crumbled a little bit and ah my fight was
mostly with business men that was trying to better the life for
Black people in Overtown. We got the Black policemens and ah after
a long fight but ah--so ah the doctors, Dr. Davis, Dentist Davis
was instrumental in helping us do that and Clyde Killens do and,
and I don't know, Bill Rivers might have been on the committee but
I know that I had tried to recruit ah Dr.--Dentist Hadley to ah
join the businessmen's organization. I think we was called the
Young Businessmen's Organization. So ah, that was our fight, when
I wasn't engaged in my restaurant I was busy trying to better the
community. I use to put ah signs on my car on the days I closed up
and go round and invite the Black to register to vote and when I
took them to the registration site, well I noticed that they was
putting an "R" by the people's name and I was wondering why this
was and I had took several people there to vote before I--then I
asked them I say, why are you putting an "R" there and she said
that means they whether Republicans or Democrats. Now at that time
there was not an active Republican Party in Florida. That was
killing their vote and I told her don't put that there, just
register them and they could vote whatever they wanted to, you
know. Ah not until about ah, I think it was about '62 or sumpin
nuther that the Republican Party became active in Florida, before
that it was just the Democrat and they would register the Black
people as Republicans so they couldn't count their votes and ah I
was carrying many, many people to the--downtown to register so they
could vote and ah they was killing the vote. So they, they opened
up a register on Seventh Avenue somewhere, near Twentieth Street,
must have been right, must have been around Nineteenth Street
anyway just before you get to Twentieth Street. I carried some
people up there and that's when I discovered they was putting "R"
on their names. They would register them and they would put the "R"
and then they would register them as Republicans and ah there was
no Republican Party active in Florida, it was only Democrat.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, you say you didn't have much of a social
life but you were very active with ah bettering umm community life,
for your community--making life better for your community.
(Mr. Jackson): Right.
(Ms. Daily): Ah but umm can you even vaguely remember any of
neighbors, anybody who did business or lived on your street?
(Mr. Jackson): Umm, say that again?
(Female voice): What was the lady's name that live across
from 141, she had a grocery store?
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, I can't call her name as well as I knowed
her, that's been so long, un hun.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, alright umm so then you have no idea, what
they did, where they worked or what has happened to them.
(Mr. Jackson): So many of them I don't know, so many. I know
Dr. Smith, I know he closed his office and went up North somewhere
and then came back and I met him after he came back. I went to him
several times after he came back but then he decided to go back up
North and I haven't heard from him anymore. Now ah, I know, I know
Dr. Davis passed here and ah most of the other doctors I know
passed like Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Benson, yeah, I knew Benson but
Benson moved away before he passed to Key West, somewhere.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe the main business areas you
went to in Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): The main business was between Eleventh Street
and Seventh Street, ah now ah O'Dell opened up a restaurant. I
think that was somewhere just ah in the year of ah '48 or '49,
something like that ah was a very nice place and then ah Charles,
that was ah, Charles was Bill Rivers' brother I think his name
Rivers and that was Bill Rivers' brother, he opened up a nice place
just after the war when they allowed you to get the material to do
things with and so two or three restaurants opened up. Ah O'Dell
opened up in the Carver Hotel and Charles opened up across the
street from there, a real nice place and, course, the Palms
Restaurant was always in the distance. They didn't seem to do much
business but they was, they was there all during the war and the
Chop Suey, what they called the Chinese place, they did very good
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family bought
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, ah Dennis Smith had a grocery, had a
little grocery on Second Avenue and Eleventh Street. I bought a
lot of stuff from Dennis Smith but then in order to get meat during
the war when ah things were so scarce I had to venture out
different places to get ah chickens and ah I had a fellow, a
butcher on Seventh Avenue, around ah Twentieth Street that I could
get hamburger from and ah chicken, I would go to the farm out on
Bird Road, and--way out where people raised chickens and things and
get my chickens and dress umm but ah, I bought my groceries at the
Farmer's Market at Twenty-second Avenue and that's Seventeenth,
Seventeenth Avenue and Twenty-second Street is where we got our
string beans and green vegetables, oranges and whatever like that,
whatever fruit we needed we got it at the Farmer's Market.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family went the
barber shop or the beauty shop?
(Mr. Jackson): Right across the street that was ah, ah Lane's
Barber Shop, yeah and ah Chink's Barber Shop. There was 2 or 3
barber shops in 2 or 3 blocks. Umm hum.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family went to the
(Mr. Jackson): Yeah, People's Drug and ah Dr. Elmer Ward ran
the ah Economy Drug, Third Avenue and ah Eleventh Street so ah we
bought drugs from our own people in them days.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where you went to the
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, there was several cleaners but they sent
their stuff out to be cleaned, they would, they were just ah like
a pick-up place. They would pick it up and then they would send it
out and then it would come back to them. They would issue it out.
Now, where they sent it out to be cleaned was mostly was far away
somewhere. Ah you understand what I'm saying?
(Ms. Daily): Yes.
(Mr. Jackson): Un hun.
TAPE #1 SIDE #2
(Ms. Daily): This is Yvonne Daily and this is a continuation
of the interview at Mr. Radie Jackson. This is Side #2 of the
Okay, Mr. Jackson, you were telling me before umm, the church
that your family attended.
(Mr. Jackson): New Bethel on ah Eighth Street between Second
and Third Avenue.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where, where your family went
for entertainment such as theaters, bars, restaurants or sporting
(Mr. Jackson): The Rockland Palace, Bill Rivers' Rockland
Palace. It was about the only entertainment we had unless we went
to Fort Lauderdale and then was, was ah, was the dance hall that
was owned by Joan ah, hump! I forget his name, being a good friend
of my I should not forget it but it's been a long time but they use
to have the big dance hall and ah very often he had dances there.
People went there for entertainment and the Rockland Palace and umm
pretty soon a few more places opened up on Third Avenue, different
places, I don't know. I can't call any of umm name right now but
ah that was the entertainment around, you know.
(Female Voice): The theater was the Lyric?
(Mr. Jackson): The Ritz. The Ritz Theater was right near my
S(Ms. Daily): Were there any special sporting events that you
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, we had, we had prize fighting, Ah there
was a ring sit up right near my place that was like temporarily,
you know what I mean. It would be just temporarily and I guess it
wasn't any charges but people would come and ah, and see the fight
and that was in the early years but ah then later, that kind of
operation went to Miami Beach.
(Ms. Daily): When someone in your family got, sick where did
they go to the doctor's office?
(Mr. Jackson): Third Avenue and Eleventh Street, Dr. Smith.
Dr. Smith and ah what other doctor now. There was Dr. Smith and
Dr. ah--I can't call--ah, oh there's two Drs. Smith. There was two
Drs. Smith, one Dr. Smith, young--Dr. Smith was a small fellow that
had the office in Dr. Hadley building on Third Avenue and ah, and
ah Eleventh Street and then there was another Dr. Smith that had an
officer further up the street and Dr. Johnson ah I don't know that
Dr. Johnson ever operated in an office. I never did go to Dr.
Johnson but ah one of, one of the brothers got to be a doctor and
the other got to be a lawyer, the Johnson brothers and, but I never
remember whether Johnson opened up an office or not.
(Ms. Daily): How long did you continue to patronize those
(Mr. Jackson): Oh I would say for like 20 years or more. I
even patronized some of them after I moved to Opa Locka, I would go
to Overtown to the doctors and ah go Overtown and eat in
(Ms. Daily): When did you begin to shop or go to
entertainment outside of Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Umm, that's a stiff question. When did I
begin to shop and go to entertainments beside Overtown?
(Ms. Daily): You said even when you moved out to Opa Locka,
you went back.
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, to ah, to restaurants and to the doctors
but ah the--
(Female voice): Carver Hotel, Lounge.
(Mr. Jackson): --the entertainment then was moved to umm
Elizabeth Hotel and it was operated by ah, the entertainment was
operated by ah--I just can't call his name now.
(Female voice): He worked to the Sir John Hotel?
(Mr. Jackson): Yeah, Sir John, yeah.
(Ms. Daily): So umm, you can't recall then when you really
stopped going down there to umm patronize their businesses or go to
the doctor or go for entertainment anymore, can you remember when?
(Mr. Jackson): Well umm I stopped after some of the people
moved out. They began to move out, they began to die out and ah a
lot of the doctors moved out into Liberty City and then I ah--Dr.
Shirley moved into Liberty City. I don't know where he moved from
or whether he was here at that time but ah I started going to Dr.
Shirley, and sometime Dr. Johnson and Dr. Shirley had his office on
ah Fifty-fourth Street in Liberty City near Seventeenth Avenue must
be 15 something.
(Ms. Daily): During the period from 1945 to 1970, what were
the main things that made Overtown a community?
(Mr. Jackson): The main thing that made it a community was
that ah, that Black people was all together rather than scattered
and ah, therefore, it became a very tight community but after they
began to scatter out and buy in different places--
(Female voice): And they put 1-95.
(Mr. Jackson): --well then it, it sort of scattered them and
then they run the roads through and ah bought up some of the
property and scattered the people. A lot of people left when 1-95
went through. They ah took the--most of Overtown for the ramps and
things that ah fed 1-95. So they, they made Overtown a small
community compared to what it was at one time.
(Ms. Daily): Ah how and when did that sense of community
change? You just mentioned the 95 and all of that but, exactly
(Mr. Jackson): Well, that's, that's mostly when it begin to
change ah, when it, when the major change begin to take place is
when they run the roads through but ah before they roads when
through a deal of people was moving out from Overtown, people who
had money to buy ah out in the suburbs was moving out and a lot of
people from Overtown moved to Liberty City, they moved to Opa Locka
and ah further out. A lot of people moved to Plantation from
Overtown ah, ah Fort Lauderdale.
(Ms. Daily): How has Overtown changed since 1970?
(Mr. Jackson): Overtown has just disintegrated completely
since 1970, it's just disintegrated and ah it seem like that they
tore down all the ah buildings that was there when I remember about
it. The building I built at 141 Ninth Street has been destroyed.
919 Northwest Second Avenue is destroyed ah the hotel, Dorsey Hotel
I think is destroyed so it's nothing like it use to be. The last
time I drove through there I couldn't hardly recognize Second
Avenue. The only thing I seen was the Lyric Theater, that was
preserved for historical reasons and that's still there but it's so
many buildings that have been demolished until it's hard to
recognize the Overtown that I knew before.
(Ms. Daily): Umm, now regarding 1-95, when and how did you
first hear about the building of I-95?
(Mr. Jackson): It's hard for me to pinpoint what year that
was but ah because I was ah advocating building better roads years
before they got on track to build 1-95 and umm I'm not sure exactly
what year that was right now. I, I would have to give it a lot of
thought to ah, to know what year that was.
(Ms. Daily): Where were you living?
(Mr. Jackson): 2170 Washington Street, Opa Locka.
(Ms. Daily): Did you own or rent the place you lived in at
(Mr. Jackson): Ah Yes, I owned it.
(Ms. Daily): What kind of reaction was there to the news that
the expressway would come through Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Well a lot of people was happy to sell their
places to the road and, of course, there was a deal of people that
didn't want to move so the rations was mixed, some wanted to get
money for their places so they could move out to the suburbs and
others wanted to stay so the reaction was mixed I would say.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, did you discuss it with your neighbors,
the coming through of I-95?
(Ms. Daily): Ah at that time we were more interested in umm,
more interested in integration. We was having meetings with the
NAACP on integration and ah jobs for Black people at that time
that I don't remember that we discussed the road so much. We was
more or less in a fight for integration and equal rights for Black
people and teachers and policemens and one thing and another cause
I was with the NAACP and we was meeting with lawyers and so forth
trying to ah gather the community as a whole and get wages for
teachers and ah policemens that was being underpaid at that time.
(Ms. Daily): Did you attend a meeting where it was discussed
or sign a petition or discuss the issue with public officials?
(Mr. Jackson): I can't say that I signed any petition but I
met with ah, ah Reverend Theodore Gibson and other officials from,
from the NAAC many times but I'm not sure whether I signed any
petitions. We use to meet regular in ah Opa Locka or Overtown or
in the Grove or wherever.
(Ms. Daily): What was the most important impact of the
expressway on you?
(Mr. Jackson): I'm not saying that it had much impact one way
or the other. I ah, I think I was happy to see them build roads
because each year I would travel up North and I would find that ah
Pennsylvania and New Jersey and different--had good roads and in
Florida we had bad roads and I was always happy to see them ah get
started on the roads and I don't know if, they were in fact--it was
just a happy idea for me.
(Female voice): Saying that you feel sorry the people that
have been misplaced.
(Mr. Jackson): Well I know some people had been displaced.
Some people was disgruntled about and then others was happy about
because they could get money for their--get a little money for that
property and move.
(Ms. Daily): What was it like when the expressway was being
(Mr. Jackson): Well, I don't know that it had any impact on
Miami, I mean on Opa Locka at all. Ah, we was sort of free from
any problem at all with the road going through.
(Ms. Daily): Do you think it affect ah Overtown community?
(Mr. Jackson): It destroyed Overtown community completely.
(Ms. Daily): Umm, could you please elaborate on that, how did
(Mr. Jackson): Well they took the Black community and put I-
95 and the ramps and the, the lead-off, 395 to Miami Beach all of
that took the complete part of ah the ah Black settlement and, and
was completely destroyed. 1-95 went down ah Eighth Street I think
I mean it went down ah Eighth Avenue. Yeah, Eighth Avenue and ah
that was right through the Black community, cause the Black
community was Second Avenue up to Sixth and Eighth so that was,
that was the destruction of Overtown when they put the road through
but ah being in Opa Locka I didn't realize that too much, in fact,
it had no impact on me.
(Ms. Daily): Did you decided to move because of I-95?
(Mr. Jackson): No.
(Ms. Daily): Okay. I'll ask you--the first question of this
set of questions and the last two, when did you decide to change
your place of residence?
(Mr. Jackson): From Overtown to Opa Locka?
(Ms. Daily): Yes.
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, well I always had the idea to build a
place in Opa Locka. I had bought property here in early '40s in
Opa Locka when the project first opened up, when Milton first
opened the property to Black people I bought some and always had
the idea to build. So after I built in Overtown and decided to
sell that out and come to Opa Locka and build so umm I guess my
idea was to move out from Overtown from the beginning soon or
(Ms. Daily): Ah why did you think it--oh well you just said
why you think it was appropriate to umm change your place of
To whom did you sell your property?
(Mr. Jackson): I guess everything in there but I don't
remember now but, but, oh--he was ah, he was a cook on the Beach
and we called him chief and I, I don't know what his right name
was, I got the--I got everything in there but I would have to look
that up to be able to tell you the name and everything. It's in my
file cabinet now and I passed over it a few days ago but ah I don't
remember the name.
(Ms. Daily): Okay. Do you think you were fairly compensated?
(Mr. Jackson): Not really but ah the fellow that was leasing
the place ah was not willing to give a ten year lease like people
wanted because he had been, the rent had been rationed for so long
and naturally he felt like it might happen again and ah he wanted
to keep his options open so he wouldn't give a ten year lease or
even a five year lease. It had to be from year to year lease and,
therefore, no one was willing to pay a good price for the business.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, what was the mortgage or rent in your new
place compared to the--to your former residence?
(Mr. Jackson): Ah you speaking about the one in Opa Locka?
(Ms. Daily): Yes as compared to the place you had--you lived
in umm Overtown.
(Mr. Jackson): Well when I started renting in Opa Locka I
could charge $10.00 a week for most of rooms, some small ones I was
getting less, like $8.00 ah which was not very much at that time.
It was just enough to pay the mortgage. You had nothing left. You
had to work in order to ah to take care of your family, you had to
work, the business did not bring enough to take care of itself. I
had 23 rooms and I could rent them at $10.00, most, two or three of
them rented for $8.00 so ah I'm saying that umm with all the rent
I was collecting was not much over enough to pay the mortgage.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, but when you moved out to Opa Locka were
you okay with your rent and mortgage there, was it better, did you
find it easier?
(Mr. Jackson): Yes, I was ah, I had both places at that time.
I had the place Overtown and the place, with the two places I was
able to pay mortgages without ah having to work on the side. Umm
(Ms. Daily): How did you choose your new residence?
(Mr. Jackson): Well, let me see now, let me think how this
question is. Ah how did I choose it? Oh, I had bought the
property from Milton Davis years before I, before I built on it so
I must have had an idea to build and come to Opa Locka a while
(Ms. Daily): Okay, was the neighborhood in your new location
different from or similar to the neighborhood from which you moved
and how was it so?
(Mr. Jackson): I, when I moved to Opa Locka, I found my
neighbors to be very nice and ah wasn't no, hardly any different
from Overtown because some of the same people was moving into Opa
Locka at that time, so I don't think the neighborhood was any
(Ms. Daily): Continuing the interview with Mr. Jackson, ah
Mr. Jackson, I would like to ask you before I go into the next set
of questions ah if you had a house or an apartment taken by the
state under eminent domain.
(Mr. Jackson): No.
(Ms. Daily): Ah, well then I'll go on to the next set of
questions which, which is regarding 1-395 and State Road 836. When
and'how did you first hear about the building of 1-395 and State
(Mr. Jackson): I think it was just went the talks begin
before the road begin to go to--I don't, I don't remember exactly
what year but ah it was just before the roads begin.
(Ms. Daily): Where were you living?
(Mr. Jackson): I was in Opa Locka at that time, 2170.
(Ms. Daily): Okay and I remember you said you had bought your
property and moved there so then you were, you were owner of the
(Mr. Jackson): Right.
(Ms. Daily): What kind of reaction to the news that the
expressway would come through Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): I was, I thought it would bring in umm
prosperity. I was under the impression that the road would be good
for Overtown but ah not knowing that it would destroy the Black
(Ms. Daily): Okay, did you discuss it with your neighbors?
(Mr. Jackson): Ah no, we didn't feel like it would have any
impact on us at all and so didn't go into no discussion concerning
(Ms. Daily): Did you attend a meeting where it was discussed
or sign a petition or discuss the issue with public officials?
(Mr. Jackson): No, not that I know of.
(Ms. Daily): What was the most important impact of the
expressway on you?
S(Mr. Jackson): Well, it had no impact on my whatsoever, I,
that I can remember. I just ah was delighted to have ah the road
coming through, thinking it would help everybody to prosper better
because I know ah people was migrating from the North in droves
along in that time and the roads was heavy with traffic and ah
knowing a better road would do better for everyone.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, so then ah you weren't living down there
but do you have any idea what ah it was like while it was being
(Mr. Jackson): Not in the least. I know people moved out and
ah was resettled in different places but I thought it was done on
a, what you might say, ah base, basic that was ah satisfaction to
(Ms. Daily): Now, regarding public housing, when and how did
you first hear about the building of public housing?
(Mr. Jackson): I think that was in the '50s when the
organization called HUD began public housing. Ah since I was not
acquainted with public housing and didn't live in any of them I
wasn't, I'm not sure.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, so then ah you aren't sure about public
housing or what goes on with it?
(Mr. Jackson): No.
(Ms. Daily): So then I'll go on to the next set of questions
and it's regarding, they are regarding Metro, the Metrorail. Ah
when and how did you first hear about the building of Metrorail?
(Mr. Jackson): Well, I heard that they was holding meetings
concerning the Metrorail, I'm not sure exactly what year but I was
hoping that ah they would hold a meeting and get the Metrorail
through Opa Locka because I thought that ah would have an impact on
Opa Locka residents going into Miami to work but, however, they ah
decided that the line would be better, beneficial going to through
(Ms. Daily): Okay, then ah do you have any idea how it
affected the community. Do you have, do you have anything to say
on how the building of the Metrorail affected Overtown or the
(Mr. Jackson): I don't have any ah idea accept I thought it
was umm prosperous to ah the people.
(Ms. Daily): Okay, ah previously we, I remember I spoke to
you umm had a lot to say about Overtown then when you were a
businessman there and lived there. Umm, so I'm going to ask you
this last set of questions regarding the future of the Overtown
What are the most important misconceptions about Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): Misconceptions? That's a tough question, I--
can you re-phrase it?
(Ms. Daily): You--
(Mr. Jackson): Well, I only can tell you that ah during the
time I was there it was a thriving community and it was doing very
well and everybody seemed to be pleased and satisfied with the
community. It was a lovely place to live and ah they, the crime
wasn't so high and everybody seemed to get along well together so
I would think it was a very thriving community at the time, during
the '40s and the '50s when I lived there.
(Ms. Daily): But from what you've heard of it now or seen of
it, umm do you think it's as good now as it was then and you did
(Mr. Jackson): No it isn't ah the ah reports that I have
heard now that it's just terrible bad over there. I've heard of a
lot of things happening there that ah we didn't--wasn't use to at
all in our days such as car jacking and things like that, we wasn't
use to that thing at all and a lot of breaking ins that we wasn't
(Ms. Daily): What do you think public officials most need to
know about Overtown?
(Mr. Jackson): You're saying what they need to know?
(Ms. Daily): To know? I was asking.
(Mr. Jackson): Well I think that Overtown should be preserved
and an be once again a beautiful community for, for Blacks and
whites. I don't think the City of Miami should be abolished at
all. That would certainly be a bad record for the State of Florida
for to have to abolish Miami.
(Ms. Daily): What should be done to improve the Overtown area
now, such as transportation projects, attractions, job creation or
beautification? I'll name them if you forget them, I'll say them
(Mr. Jackson): Well if people found it prosperous to move
certain business in there that would help, ah even entertainment
would help. Any sort of business that prospers could help Overtown
and, once again, people would move back into Overtown. Well it
would be good if some Black could ah build a hotel or build ah, a
factory or something that would ah draw people into Overtown and
keep the area ah prosperous as it was once.
(Ms. Daily): What should be the relationship between Overtown
and Downtown Miami?
(Mr. Jackson): Well ah I think it should be, since it,
integration has passed, I think it should be integrated all the
(Ms. Daily): When you have visitors from out of town, where
do you take them to show them the culture and history of Dade
County's African-American community?
(Mr. Jackson): Well I have took visitors down Second Avenue
and around Overtown and show umm where Overtown use to be but there
is so much changes made and so many building destroyed until you
don't have the same images that it was before and it's hard to
explain ah what it was like before that it was a very tight
community at one time.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe in your own words what type
of community you would like Overtown to be in the future?
(Mr. Jackson): Oh, I would like to see it prosper again and
raise up to be a beautiful community like it was one time where all
the Blacks and white could prosper in there. I think ah, white
business and Black business could build up together in there and,
and make Overtown a beautiful community again. That's, that's what
I would like to see.
(Ms. Daily): I know you, even if you had the mind you
wouldn't be able to go back into business but umm I'm sure--
(Mr. Jackson): 1-95 had a lot of impact on Overtown but I
would say that some of the influent people was moving out even
before 1-95 came through and destroyed Overtown but ah it still
could be revived and I would to see it be revived if ah business
people would go back in again and open up again and hold on to some
of their property that they originally owned because there is a
deal of Blacks that own property in there.
(Ms. Daily): Well this ends our interview Mr. Jackson ah
thank you for your input. It was very informative and umm
and ah this Yvonne Daily, today's date is August umm, not
August, September 4, 1997.
(Mr. Jackson): Umm hum, okay.
(Ms. Daily): --and this completes my interview with Mr.