The spring brought new things to Africville, things which were not pretty like flowers, nor sweet smelling like the sea air. The newest things in Africville were suit-wearing, briefcase-toting white men — Leslie Ann Carvery, Africville My Home (2016).
In communities of color, folks know that whenever this happens, bad things follow.
Two Halifax city officials, one holding a rolled plan of Africville, outside an Africville house, prior to demolition of the community. Credit: Nova Scotia Archives, Bob Brooks Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1989-468 vol. 16 / negative sheet 5 image 25 .
Last September I published a post about a fence blocking access from a railroad bridge connecting the east side of Georgia Avenue with the historic B&O Railroad Station on the road’s west side. The fence had been described by novelist George Pelecanos in a 2001 book set in Silver Spring (and Northwest Washington) and it had blocked the pedestrian connection for almost 20 years.
The fence and blocked connection in September 2016.
Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) responded to the initial post with a promise to look into the situation: “This fence is an abomination,” Riemer wrote. He pursued opening the connection by contacting the railroad station’s owner, Montgomery Preservation, Inc., and staff in the County’s Silver Spring Regional Center.
On March 9, 2017, Councilmember Riemer commented on a February Facebook update about the fence’s continued presence:
Thanks for prodding us on this. We got it fixed. According to the urban district staffer I spoke with it was the county’s responsibility and therefore the county fixed it.
Thank you Coucilmember Riemer for being persistent and for opening up this historic connection to a historic building in downtown Silver Spring.
© 2017 D.S. Rotenstein
Gentrified Oakhurst neighborhood in Decatur, Ga.
For more than 30 years I have gone uninvited into many neighborhoods in more than 20 states, first as an archaeologist and later as a historian. Whether it was a wealthy white neighborhood or a poor African American neighborhood, one thing was constant: no one ever looked out a window, saw a suspicious white man, and called the police.
Last week I was photographing “sit-down” restaurants east of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. The District’s seventh and eighth wards have the highest concentrations of poverty in the nation’s capital. Neighborhoods like Deanwood, Anacostia, and Congress Heights since the 1940s have become the city’s sink for African Americans displaced by urban renewal and gentrification. Continue reading