In the spring of 1979 the South Decatur Community Council, a volunteer group credited with helping revitalize the area now known as Decatur, Georgia’s Oakhurst neighborhood, raised serious concerns about gentrification and displacement. “Gentrification, Speculation, Displacement, Investment Potential. These will soon become common terms as more and more home buyers discover South Decatur,” wrote the organization in its April 1979 newsletter.
As gentrification has taken hold in Oakhurst over the past decade or so, the SDCC’s concerns have materialized in ways the organization could not have conceived. Not only has Oakhurst become whiter and more affluent than it was in the 1970s, it also has become less tolerant of people once welcomed by the community. More than 30 years ago South Decatur’s community leaders called on their elected and appointed officials to maintain housing, ethnic, and economic diversity in the neighborhood. Instead, their entreaties fell on deaf and disinterested ears, according to many of those leaders who still live in Oakhurst and others who have moved away, propelled by the loss of diversity they foresaw. Continue reading