Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke says good riddance to a restaurant that didn't serve blacks.
Last week, when Liberty City soul food restaurant Jumbo's closed its doors, it was big news. The New York Times' Frances Robles wrote a front-page story documenting how the joint went from discriminating against African-Americans to becoming a black Miami landmark. The Miami Herald and others followed.
I, for one, am glad the place is gone. Good riddance. If the black people who frequented Jumbo's had any sense, they would have put the restaurant out of business decades ago.
I always hated Jumbo's because it was the first place I experienced segregation. I remember my mom would take my brothers and me to Jumbo's in the late '60s. She'd drive the family's yellow Galaxy 500 to the back of the restaurant to pick up our shrimp order.
One day I asked my mom why we couldn't go inside. She explained that only white people were allowed to sit in Jumbo's. From then on, the place was a constant reminder of the inequality blacks face in Miami.
Jumbo's finally began allowing blacks in the dining area when Bobby Flam took over the spot from his father in 1967. Flam told the Times that 30 of his white employees quit when he told them he would welcome African-Americans.
Black community leaders hail Flam for being one of the first white business owners to integrate. But it's not like he had a choice. By then, Liberty City was becoming predominantly black. Jumbo's became the place for Miami's black powerbrokers and community activists to meet. When people rioted in 1980 after four white cops were acquitted in the beating death of a black man, Jumbo's was one of the only businesses left undamaged.
Flam said he's closing because a developer bought the building for $490,000 and has promised to turn it into a retail center and low-income housing. But it's probably just another attempt to gentrify a black neighborhood. For me, Jumbo's closing is like watching the Confederate flag being burned. While some black people are sad about it, I couldn't be happier.
I can't wait to see the bulldozers tear it down.
Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.