Culture

Black Businessman Uses $52 million Lottery Winnings To Rebuild African American Community In Florida

Black Businessman Uses $52 million Lottery Winnings To Rebuild African American Community In Florida

 

After winning the $52 million jackpot in 2010, Miguel Pilgram of the Pilgram Group used his earnings to start a real estate company. Now, the entrepreneur is using his real estate knowledge to invest that money back into a Fort Lauderdale, Florida community that was once known for its thriving Black businesses, reports Black Enterprise.

Photo credit: Mike Stocker/AP

Pilgram says he is committed to rebuilding Sistrunk Boulevard, which is referred to as the "historical heartbeat of Fort Lauderdale's oldest Black community." It is named after James Sistrunk, a Black physician who helped to open the first African American hospital in Broward County in 1938.

After desegregation, the community gradually declined to one that was plagued by gun violence and drugs. In an effort to restore the neighborhood, Pilgram has purchased three buildings and plans to build a jazz lounge, blues lounge, restaurants and a center for the performing arts.

While many activists and developers are itching to invest in the neighborhood with prosperous potential, some local citizens fear that gentrifying the area will push current residents and the native culture out. However, Pilgram makes it clear that that's far from his goal.

"For me, it's (about) preserving the community as a whole," he told a local NBC News affiliate.

The 48-year-old, who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee tells the Sun Sentinel that he was raised in an environment similar to Sistrunk Boulevard and "there is a need, and in (his) mind, an obligation, to invest there."

Kudos to Mr. Pilgram! What a great way to pay it forward.