Loveyah Stewart: Strong Roots on the West Side
Dayton was once a magnet that drew thousands to its industrial core during the Great Migration, those years from 1916 to the 1970s that saw many Black people leaving the segregated South for Northern cities.
Community producer Loveyah Stewart’s family is deeply rooted in West Dayton. Her grandparents came up from Mississippi and Alabama in the 1940s, and now three generations have lived in her home on West Third Street.
Loveyah shared her family’s West Dayton story with fellow producer Tiffany Brown in a recent phone call.
On what it's like to live in West Dayton
I would say definitely it's warm and it's familiar. It feels right. It feels right like deep down inside. There's a connection. My roots are here. There's a big tree in my backyard. I don't know anything about trees, but it's a beautiful tree. And the roots are so big and strong and I think about my grandparents that sacrificed a lot to be on the West Side of Dayton and made a life for their offspring.
On what life in West Dayton was like for Loveyah's mother as a child
When she talks about Third Street, there was so much going on. There was so much business on Third Street, she said there was a toy store called Punch and Judy and my grandfather would take her there and buy her tea sets, and whatever toy that she wanted, she was super spoiled. She said that on Third and Broadway, there was a vegetable market, full of farmers, selling vegetables and fruit, just an abundance. Black people didn't have to go to Kettering to go to the grocery store or to find clothing. It was all on this side of town.
On the best thing about West Dayton right now
There's still that strong residential feeling. So we look after each other. And I'm in the middle of the street changing, there's a library that's gonna be built right across the street. So it's changing right before my eyes. This is where my people are.
West Dayton Stories is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices and is supported by CityWide Development Corporation.