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Overtown street renamed for Clarence Pittman, Jr.

Erick Johnson | 4/10/2014, 9 a.m.
Clarence Pittman, Jr.

Community leaders, politicians and residents gathered yesterday in Overtown to celebrate the life and legacy of longshoreman leader Clarence Pittman, Jr., who died last December of heart disease.

At the Longshorman Union Hall across from the historic Lyric Theatre, relatives, colleagues and friends remembered Pittman with speeches, musical tributes and heartfelt testimonies.

“What he has done for this community, we should remember him for the rest of our lives,” said District 5 City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon. “When I hear the legacy of someone like this man (Pittman), it inspires me to be at least half of the leader he was.”

“There was not a time when my boss went to Clarence Pittman for help that he never said no,” said Alexis Snyder, District Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL 24th District) who was in Washington and unable to attend the event. “He understood the needs of the community.”

District 3 County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and District 2 School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall also attended the ceremony. Pittman’s daughter, Crystal Clarencetta Pittman was there as well.

Dorothy Fields, founder of the Black Archives of South Florida and President of the Historic Overtown Folk Life District Association, remembered Pittman as a watchdog for the community.

“He was a good neighbor,” she said. “He would look after us to make sure things were alright.”

Community leaders will rename NW 2nd Avenue as Clarence Pittman, Jr. Avenue to honor the revered labor leader who for three decades served as president of the International Longshoreman’s Association [ILA], Local #1416 AFL-CIO located on the street. He was considered a catalyst for the Union and as their top official he led them in their commitment to providing needed donations to the community. Pittman also served as vice president of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District, executive representative of the International Longshoremen’s Association AFL-CIO, was a member of the South Florida AFL-CIO and a member of the South Eastern Dock and Marine Council.

Described as a gentle, decisive leader, Pittman’s colleagues pointed to his professionalism and his ability to always come up with a resolution whenever he was confronted with problems.