Title: Oral History Interview with William Fonvielle, August 2, 2002. Interview R-0174.
Interviewer: Taylor, Kieran
Interviewee: Fonvielle, William
Abstract: William Fonvielle describes the long legacy of his family's ownership of Savannah Pharmacy on West Broad Street in Savannah, Georgia. After his father's murder in 1955 and his grandfather's death the following year, Fonvielle's aunt assumed leadership of their business. As a child, he delivered prescriptions and learned the city's landscape. Fonvielle fondly remembers the close-knit nature of the black West Broad Street community. Blacks supported the local businesses, especially during the Jim Crow era, when most white business owners refused to serve black patrons. However, Fonvielle argues that blacks have divided themselves along class lines. Middle-class blacks moved to suburban areas and did not return to support their community. He maintains that Savannah lacks progressive and aggressive blacks willing to unify the race and protect the black community. He connects black unification with a strong black economic center, and he bemoans the decline of adequate store supplies, the growth of chain stores, and the flight of the black middle class to the suburbs, all of which, he argues, has stymied economic progress and drained West Broad Street of its economic vitality.