Florida Tourism Campaign Features Overtown And Eatonville

Feb 17, 2015

The Lyric Theater in Miami's Overtown community is one of the only theaters left from the days when the neighborhood was known as "The Harlem of the South."
Credit Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, is promoting the rich history of  two of Florida’s historic black neighborhoods for Black History Month.

Miami’s Overtown neighborhood will be featured in a national commercial that highlights its past as “The Harlem of the South.”

Big name artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole would perform on Miami Beach, but because of segregation they stayed in Overtown hotels. At night, visiting celebrities would go to the local nightclubs, performing and jamming with locals.

The neighborhood's rich history includes Booker T. Washington High School, the first school to educate black students south of Palm Beach.

Eatonville, a city 20 minutes away from Orlando, is also featured in the tourism ad campaign. Eatonville was the first incorporated black municipality in the country.

According to the state tourism agency, Florida is the top traveling destination for African-Americans. The two 60-second commercials will air across national and cable networks in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Detroit and Dallas.

Will Seccombe, president of Visit Florida, said the campaign would introduce a broader audience to Florida’s  history and neighborhoods.

“In addition to its 825 miles of beaches and enviable theme parks, Florida is home to an abundance of culturally relevant hidden gems – from the earliest settlement of free Blacks in America to the vibrant music and artistry surrounding the ‘chitlin’ circuit’,” he said.

See the Overtown commercial:

See the Eatonville commercial: