Miguel Pilgram won the lottery and is now using his winnings to rebuild the Black community. Pilgram won $52 million after buying a lottery ticket at a gas station in 2010, according to SunSentinal.
Pilgram, who was raised in Memphis, moved to South Florida to work on a cruise line. After winning the lottery, Pilgram decided to invest into the Sistrunk community in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sistrunk Boulevard was named after Florida’s first Black doctor, James Sistrunk. Dr. Sistrunk helped to establish Broward County’s first Black hospital in 1938. Sistrunk Boulevard was once a thriving Black community in South Florida. It was home to top Black-owned businesses and frequent location where civil rights leaders would meet in the 1960s.
However, after desegregation, Sistrunk Boulevard became a place known for blight and violence. In 2013, several White residents in nearby Flagler Village challenged a request by the city council to extend Sistrunk Boulevard. The White residents believed that the Sistrunk name would have a negative affect on their home value. But Pilgram believes that Sistrunk Boulevard came return to prominence with a little help.
Pilgram and his real estate company is planning to build several businesses in the community. Those businesses include a New York Subs and Wings restaurant, a Memphis Blues club, a retail complex, a bank, a Jamba Juice, and a performing arts center with instructors in dance, arts, and music.
Pilgram’s plan is to bring more jobs to the community while also providing a place for kids to learn and be creative. With the revitalization efforts, Sistrunk Boulevard can be a thriving community again.