Interview with Radie Jackson, September 3, 1997

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Interview with Radie Jackson, September 3, 1997
Daily, Yvonne ( Interviewer )
Jackson, Radie ( Interviewee )
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Overtown Oral History Collection ( local )

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University of Florida
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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

you had.

(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

more years.

(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

transportation or?

(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

family work?

(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
for jobs?

(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

United States?

(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

isn't it?

(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.


(Ms. Daily): This is Yvonne Daily and this is a continuation

of the interview at Mr. Radie Jackson. This is Side #2 of the

first tape.

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

can remember?

(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

the time.

(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

Road 836?

(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

the road.

(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

mention crime.

(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

familiar with.

(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.


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