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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Urban renewal drives blacks from homes and businesses

Adams describes the black neighborhood in Savannah where he lived and worked as a boy. Urban renewal destroyed the black community he believes, allowing "white and Jewish" investors in as families and businesses struggled to relocate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KIERAN TAYLOR Did you work out of the West Broad office then? Your father moved to Montgomeryߞ FLOYD ADAMS, JR. My father when I was a child, they had already moved over to the Montgomery Street office, and that was my earliest relationship with that, when the Herald was on Montgomery Street. KIERAN TAYLOR Montgomery was an extension in some ways of Broad Street. FLOYD ADAMS, JR. Yes it was, because all the African American businesses and black businesses, what ever you want to call it, were located on Montgomery and Martin Luther King Boulevard or West Broad Street. Montgomery Street is only a block away, and as a child one of my duties in working with my father in the business, he had other. The Tribune was our competition. It was friendly competition. If they needed something from us, we would give it to them. If we needed something, we would hear back and forth like mostly pictures or something of that nature. I was the go-for. KIERAN TAYLOR The runner. FLOYD ADAMS, JR. The runner, go-for or whatever you want to. I had to walk around the corner on Park Avenue to there, and by then you'd walk past most of the black businesses, the fish market, Mr. McLaughlins you would call it confectionery-type thing but more than that went on in there. Across the street you had Robins Department Store. They had all those type of businesses there. The Sims Fish Store and all those. It was a whole cavalry of businesses that catered to the black folk who lived in Currytown and all those behind West Broad Street. They provided the income base for most of those businesses, and we didn't have the transportation that we do now. Everybody didn't have two cars in the garage and a driveway. Everyone walked and so convenience stores now, the M and M supermarkets, the Foodtown supermarkets, all those Krogers have bought them out now. But those grocery stores, people like the Sadlers, the Malavers, they had grocery stores on the bottom floor, and they lived upstairs on the second floor. That's how my father got to know a lot of those people because he eventually, we had a printing company as well. We would print their flyers for them, and they called them circulars or flyers back in those days and let people know what was going on in the sales and what was going to come up. We did that for many, many years until they grew and started doing other things with their distribution points. A lot of people, urban renewal as I say tore out Currytown, they tore out the businesses, but that enabled the white or Jewish businesses, the money that they received from that to expand into other aspects of real estate development and everything else. But on the other part, it destroyed quite a few of the black businesses because they didn't relocate. Some of them relocated, but they didn't have the clientele to deal with it like they do today. It's a major difference in that respect. KIERAN TAYLOR By many accounts Currytown was falling down, and the effort to revitalize the housing doesn't seem bad in and of itself. Did anyone foresee the dramatic negative consequences that it would have on the long-term health of the street? FLOYD ADAMS, JR. I don't think they did. If they did back in the attitude back in those days, they didn't give a damn about it, excuse the expression. There was an excess of gathering land. They saw an opportunity for federal grants and what have you and improve the situation. But what, the people who owned the land made the money, and they took the money and reinvested it because most of it came to be federal property of the housing authority. Unfortunately there were quite a few people who regardless of the fact thatߞ[To security officers at Savannah airport] good morning gentlemen, how y'all doing. Doing good. Everything okay. Good. I know y'all enjoy this cool comfort. Thank you. I guess the city fathers saw it was an opportunity to make some improvements, but also you have to understand that the urban renewal project extended not necessarily in Currytown, but extended all the way through the whole quote historic district itself. That gave them the opportunity to get low interest money to refurbish those houses.