We were asked by the Community Redevelopment Agency of South Miami to do a video that would document the history of Black settlement and development in the city. We had produced a well received video about the history of the City of South Miami which prompted the CRA to ask us to produce a video focused on the city’s Black community that developed parallel to the White community across the tracks, in the segregated south.
The first thing that struck us was the lack of documentation from what was a dynamic Black commercial and residential area: few pictures, a scarcity of newspaper reports, and little documentation. The area didn’t even have running water, sewers, paved streets or sidewalks until the 1950s and 60s. The story of Black Town, as some residents called it, was a tale of a once dynamic community decimated by rezoning that closed home businesses and gentrification which forced the dwindling number of Black residents to sell out in search of more affordable areas.
The Black church congregations continue to shrink in the area as plans for new low cost housing continue to be stalled.