Church group leads community empowerment efforts
Adams remembers black Savannah's "Daddy Grace Parade," a spectacle that unified the community. It was led by Sweet Daddy Grace, the leader of a Pentecostal church that Adams notes has contributed a great deal to the economic health of the black community. As he reflects on the church's outreach, Adams remembers some of the institutions black Savannah lost to urban renewal and black Savannans' efforts to reverse some of those losses through community activism.
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
You wouldn't remember any of Daddy Grace's
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
Oh yes I do. I remember quite a few of them. I enjoyed it matter of
fact, really enjoyed those because at the time we could go to the
Herald and kept cool and relaxed until the parade came
out and then we walked outdoors and did it. Like I was telling, relating
to some people the other day, they used to have the bands on the back of
a truck, a flatbed truck and playing the music right before Daddy Grace
would come by and see the people walking and the parade. The big parade
of Savannah was the Daddy Grace parade for black folks. It
wasn't the Saint Patrick's Day parade. It was the
sweet Daddy Grace parade and everybody turned out. I mean, that was it.
That was the thing. I remember going to my first service of Daddy
Was this an outdoor?
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
No, he had a tent on the corner of Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fourth
street between Ogeechee road right around the corner from his present
place and had the sawdust on the floor. That was the ground. That was
the flooring, the sawdust, fresh sawdust on it. People step on that and
everything and see how they gave him the money trees and all that kind
of stuff. But as a child you related to the music and see how the people
were reacting so more than anything else. So it was good.
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
Yeah, the spectacle if you want to call it, but everybody looked at
Sweet Daddy wanted to look at his fingernails and everything of that
nature. He did wonders for this community and brought it together. So
regardless of whether you believe that his religious permutation and
belief, he did good for this community. He still continues to do good,
House of Prayer.
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
The House of Prayer doing great. The House of Prayer did something in
this community that other churches have not done, black churches. They
built apartment complexes for the senior citizens within the church.
They spruced up the neighborhoods and recently within the last four or
five years, they've come in and rebuilt all their churches in
Savannah and upgraded their facilities. Now they're operating
restaurants and everything. So from an economic point of view,
they've been a wonderful blessing to
this community and that was always his outreach and everything else. So
he's created the economic flow for this community.
Savannah has improved over the years. Slowly like I've told
people, I've seen the bad, the good and hopefully the best
coming forward, but I've seen the city move.
Everybody's emphasizing the historical significance.
We've lost a lot of historical things that were prevalent to
the black community when urban renewal came through. I was recently in
Macon and the terminal, the last Union station in the state. I felt as a
child, that our Union Station was the best and most beautiful building
that I'd ever seen with the marble and all that, but it went
down the tubes because of urban renewal and somebody wanted to put I-16
in here. You have some little engineer in Atlanta saying we need to put
the train this way. Next thing everybody jump on board, just for the
development, economic stimulus for the community. Yes, it's
economic stimulus. We now have one of the biggest ports in the community
because we can now move the cargo from Savannah to Atlanta and then
disperse it nationwide because of that connection. But we pay the price.
We paid the price. Luckily, there were seven white women who said
'no.' See that was the difference. When they
started emerging and trying to do something in the downtown area, you
had the white community say no, we're going to form these
groups and buy these buildings. The black community didn't
have the resources to do that. That started the Historical Savannah
Foundation. That's why we have a lot of these buildings that
so-called save the day because of Historic Savannah. They started
creating laws like our historic review board gives certain permissions
and stuff. Before you can get a house painted you had to get permission,
those type things. The covenants within this historic district,
it's so tight that you have the complaints from a lot of
people that too restrictive, but that's what saves Savannah.
Now we created 1.2 billion dollars worth of industry, a new industry
based on tourism because people now have seen what they did in
Williamsburg and other places, and they're coming now not to
see the old houses that these people saved, but everything else
that's connected. You've got these tour buses and
everything else. All that created wealth in the community and created
jobs. Tourism like I say has slowly becoming the second largest industry
within Chatham County.
So all that stemmed from historic preservation, but on the other side of
it you have a lot of wealth of black history as well. A lot of the
buildings and stuff that we could've probably attracted other
whites to see a historical significance, we lost
those because of quote urban renewal. We're trying to
rebuild. One of my main goals and hopefully my legacy when I leave my
office will be the rebuilding of the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood
where we've gotten the city to go in, purchase up most of the
land within the area and rebuild it. That will be coming on track very