Written and Directed by: Robin Reshard
Edited by David Alexander
Part 1 Premiers on PBS February 2013
Part 2 Premiers on PBS March 2013
The Belmont-De Villiers neighborhood was established in the 1800s as a community of progressive people who wanted to forge a sense of place for their families and businesses. Situated just west of the downtown corridor in Pensacola, Florida, it was the place for socializing, entertaining and shopping for African Americans. The diverse races and cultures contributed to making Belmont-De Villiers a true microcosm of the United States, giving varied experiences, ideas and voices to the area’s growth and development. When it began, the progressive ideals and actions seemed to propel the people and businesses into the 20th century.
When Jim Crow introduced himself to the nation after Reconstruction, African American businesses that were located in the downtown corridor area moved into the neighborhood.
For the next five decades, the area flourished. Then, the negative side effects of urbanization and integration and the disinvestment of resources occurred. The opportunities presented by the growing city and nation took its toll on the neighborhood. Crime and disinterest raised their heads.
The neighborhood became known as the “hood.”
For the last three decades of the 20th century, very little progress was made. Yet the hearts of the residents and business owners always stirred in the spirit of community.
The 21st century has welcomed a renewed sense of place for Belmont-De Villiers and the neighborhood has welcomed new friends to the resurgence.