Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New report on eminent domain and African-Americans: urban renewal display Feb 24

“Between 1949 and 1973 … 2,532 projects were carried out in 992 cities that displaced one million people, two-thirds of them African American,” making blacks “five times more likely to be displaced than they should have been given their numbers in the population.”

"As of June 30, 1967, urban renewal had destroyed 400,000 housing units and built only 10,760 low-rent units to replace them."

Eminent Domain & African Americans: What is the Price of the Commons?

By Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD

Published February 2007
Institute for Justice series "Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse"

“Eminent domain has become what the founding fathers sought to prevent: a tool that takes from the poor and the politically weak to give to the rich and politically powerful,” concludes Dr. Mindy Fullilove in her report titled, “Eminent Domain & African Americans: What is the Price of the Commons?”

Eminent Domain & African Americans is the first in a series of independently authored reports published by the Institute for Justice, Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse, which examine the different aspects of eminent domain abuse from the vantage point of noted national experts.

Read the full 10-page report.

In the endnotes, the author cites a Roanoke newspaper article as an example of sources that have estimated the one million figure for the urban renewal diaspora from 1949-1973. This number does not include people displaced by eminent domain for other purposes or since 1973. "Street by Street, Block by Block: How Urban Renewal Uprooted Black Roanoke" by Mary Bishop, The Roanoke Times, Jan 29, 1995.

I visit a friend in Roanoke a few times a year. He moved there in 2003. Just driving around certain parts of Roanoke, it looks like a war zone people decided not to rebuild. The debris have been hauled away. What remains is empty lots all over the place. My friend doesn't know the truth about Roanoke.

On December 3, 2006 while I was visiting, The Roanoke Times reported that city Democrats have a plan to uproot more black people ("Democrats form caucus after party's ouster plans"). Well, they didn't use those words but that's what black people heard.

"The Roanoke City Democratic Caucus gives us a meaningful vehicle to keep Roanoke moving forward with a positive plan of growth, economic development and first-rate schools and facilities," said Evelyn Powers, Roanoke Treasurer.

On the same page begins an article that explores why there is a "wide racial disparity in how residents view the newspaper" ("Readers must help diversify newspapers" by Shanna Flowers).

The Democratic Caucus uses code words for more status quo. The paper doesn't report what the code stands for--displacing more people, creating more empty space, and perpetuating failed schools. By not informing its new readers periodically of the truth behind city politics, The Roanoke Times is complicit in the injustice.

And even the black reporters at the newspaper have no idea why blacks don't trust the local paper. The paper doesn't know it's not about skin color. It's about content.

Here in Charlottesville, the Carter Woodson Institute will display photos of urban renewal Saturday Feb. 24 at 2pm at First Baptist Church on West Main Street. It's unknown whether any text documents, such as a deed, condemnation notice or newspaper clip, will be on display.


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