Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How has the division between African-American and white community shaped perception of Winter Park?

Many things have changed through out the community of Winter Park over the years, much dealing with the population, specifically looking at the African American and white community and the divide between. Back in the 1960s, winter park was very segregated and specifically seen as either the east or west side of the “tracks.” The railroad tracks are a famous dividing line that once separated the black from white community. Despite the segregation, the black community did receive beneficial things from their neighboring white community. For example, there were many jobs either dealing with the railroads or other service positions within the wealthy white community that gave the African American population educational benefits and also prosperity and privilege. As time went by, the west side (Hannibal Square) came to be known as having high levels of education, business and home ownership, and having a professional standing among the black population.

Throughout the history of Winter Park, the perception of the communities and their divide has changed, in my opinion, for the better. After visiting the Hannibal Square community center, it gave me the perception that back in the 1960s people viewed the west side of Winter Park in a very historical sense. That is where everything started. The west side had character and meaning. Looking to the other side of the tracks and the white community, I had the perception that on that side, there were all the jobs and development ideas just waiting to be put into action. My view is that the west side was desperately trying to stick to their roots and preserve the history and all the hard work that the black community put into building there “side” of town.

My perception has obviously changed in some sense after seeing the Winter Park that is present today. After taking the tour around the Hannibal Square community center, it was obvious all the development that took over the streets that were once homes and filled with culture and history of the black community. In my opinion, that could be seen as a positive change for the community in the sense that the white and African American populations and communities have blended to become more of a “one” and therefore the area of Winter Park is no longer divided. An appropriate quote to describe this would be: “The tracks through Winter Park have historically stood as a dividing line between black and white, but this line has recently moved, causing some to wonder “if the rapid transformation of the area is a healthy boost or a destruction of culture.” “

There has been a lot of development, which does change my perception of winter park to one that screams business and thriving economical opportunity; however, through all the development, you can still see the history and culture behind the town, especially if you walk into the Hannibal square community center. When I look at Winter Park today, I do not visibly see a racial divide. I believe that since the development, the two communities have blended more and that shows a union among the people.

Winter Park has changed a lot over the years and I believe that the change has helped the community come together. “Today, the city of Winter Park, know worldwide for its wealth and quality of life, is one of the most desirable addresses in Florida.” (Rollins History Department)

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