Every time a Powerball jackpot rolls around, many of us fantasize about how we would spend the money if we were to win. For Miguel Pilgram—a South Florida man who won a $52 million lottery prize seven years ago—using his winnings to invest in the Black community was imperative to him, Black Enterprise reported.
Following his win in 2010, Pilgram founded a real estate company that oversaw properties in South Florida, the news outlet wrote. Now he is investing in the revitalization of Sistrunk Boulevard, a historic Black community in the heart of Fort Lauderdale.
The corridor, which was named in honor of an African-American doctor who contributed to opening up the first Black hospital in Broward County 80 years ago, was once bustling with Black-owned businesses and served as the epicenter of African-American culture in that area. Blacks cultivated the community since they were unable to travel to other areas in the neighborhood due to segregation laws. According to the source, desegregation caused Sistrunk Boulevard’s downfall and it devolved into an area beset by drugs and violence.
Pilgram is looking to revive the renaissance that took place before the neighborhood went downhill. So far, he’s acquired three buildings and plans to open a performing arts center, eateries, and lounges. “For me, it’s [about] preserving the community as a whole,” Pilgram told Black Enterprise. “I was raised in a similar environment. There is a need, and in my mind, an obligation, to invest there.”
Like many other communities across the country, this neighborhood has felt the wrath of gentrification. There has been a constant struggle between people of color who have lived in the community for decades and developers who want to construct new properties in the area. Local activists said Pilgram’s plan will be an integral part of preserving Sistrunk Boulevard’s rich history and culture and will encourage people to take action in other cities that are going through the same changes.
Gentrification has been an ongoing issue in Black communities. Last month, a report released by Georgetown University showed that the Black population in the District of Columbia dropped below 50 percent for the first time in decades.