Tag Archives: Roxbury

Referring to Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

City Hall Plaza

Open Letter to Boston’s Mayoral Candidates

Greetings City of Boston Mayoral Candidate:

We send this communication in regards to an issue of huge concern to the residents who reside within the 3.5 miles radius of Greater Roxbury.  That issue revolves around the question of land, development and the ability of current residents, who are primarily “People Of Color,” to remain in their present homes on a permanent basis without the fear of being displaced.

At present we are observing a “building boom” throughout the City Of Boston that includes the previously mentioned Greater Roxbury. A prime example would be the Ferdinand Building construction project in Dudley Square, Roxbury. It is a $116 million dollar venture that has been described as a future economic engine for the area. The big question on the minds of many residents in the affected area “for whom????”

There is a great deal of trepidation among residents that the alleged “boom” is nothing more than a smokescreen for the dreaded term know as gentrification and is interpreted as “present people removal.” We as a community, in many respects, watch helplessly with no voice as the concrete is laid, steel girders going up and no new lines of communication being established to inform the everyday resident of what bodes for the future and how it will affect us as residents who presently reside in these areas.

Therefore, we as the tax paying electorate are requesting that you and your campaign explain in detail in writing, what position you as mayor and what your administration would take as it pertains to stabilizing a very fragile situation. Many residents are vulnerable in regards to gentrification due to the fact that several families rely on rent subsidies or you have home owners who are in jeopardy of losing their homes due to a high property tax rate.

It is expected that any candidate under consideration must be sensitive to the situation of land and continued residency and present a detailed plan on how their administration would address this very sensitive and life changing matter.  We appreciate your consideration of this very crucial issue and look forward to your response in the very immediate future.

In land stabilization,

Sadiki Kambon, Director

The Black Community Information Center Inc.

Dudley Square

A Dudley Square Public Service Announcement

Change is inevitable. I welcome change. Roxbury has changed from my mother’s day to mine to my children and grandchildren. On a Saturday afternoon I could grab my change and head to one of three theaters on Washington Street. Yes, at one time there were three theaters, The Dudley, the Riverlee and the Uptown. But with all the gentrification in motion for Dudley Square, I want to know if there will be a black neighborhood for my grandchildren to play in. To learn, work, shop and raise their children.

Yes, I’m thinking long term. I’m planning like the government plans. I’m trying to set in motion a fury of black leaders who don’t want their community overrun by big-box stores like Walmart and Subway, driving off our Nubian Notions and Silver Slippers. Black people have to form coalitions, buy land, start businesses and support those businesses if we don’t want to get squeezed out of communities that we’ve lived in all of our lives.

Opportunists will find any entry they can and come in. Next thing you know the neighborhood you grew up in is now a Walmart taking up 20 acres of land. The Dorchester and Roxbury area is filled with culture, rich in history. The thought of it becoming a generic town is heartbreaking. We can’t allow this to be done. Dudley Square was my old stomping ground. I used to play in the alley where the Haley House now stands.

This is why I’m so passionate about our Dudley Square; this is why Brother Lowe, many others including myself protested for 35 days straight for jobs for Boston residents. I know bus stops have to be eventually moved and bike trails constructed, but I don’t want to lose my community. I don’t want it wiped out. Roxbury… so rich with history. Malcolm X walks these streets. His spirit is still here. We have to make sure it stays in our hands. We are Roxbury. I’m still fortunate enough to occasionally drive by my mother’s house on West Walnut Park, I wonder how long that will last.

This has been a public service announcement from your Dudley Square Jazz Diva, Fulani Haynes.

Peace.

Chuck Turner is a long time activist and former Boston City Councilor, representing Greater Roxbury.

We Shall Not Be Moved

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I’m back! After 28 months on a mountain top in the West Virginia mountains at USP Hazelton, I’m at home again! Or at least I’m back in Boston and close to being home again. At the moment, I’m living in a halfway house in Boston but expect to be at home by the middle to end of August.

Thanks to Sadiki Kambon and the board of the Black Community Information Center, I have an office in the Imani House, 516 Warren Street. I’m there from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday familiarizing myself with what has happened during the two years I’ve been gone and deciding how to resume organizing.

I am somewhat startled by the fact that while I have only been gone for two years, the process of physical change seems to be on fast forward. In Dudley Square and Jackson Square, new development appears to be moving forward at hyper speed.

On the one hand many seem pleased that after years of struggle, physical change is taking place. At the same time, I hear a continuous concern voiced about how this change will effect our present population.

The question I continually hear is “who will benefit from the change?” This question focuses on whether the cost of the apartments being built in Jackson Square and elsewhere, as well as the newcomers brought to Greater Roxbury through the housing and city jobs at Ferdinand’s will economically drive out our lower income neighbors and change the population of our community over the next five, ten, fifteen years.

Having seen how urban renewal effected the South End population as well as black communities across the country, this concern can not be dismissed. We also can’t ignore the fact that Richard Taylor, a black developer, and others are advocating that the micro mini apartments (350 to 450 square feet) now renting for $2000 a month and up in the Seaport District be brought to Roxbury.

However, our history teaches us that through organizing we have historically been able to develop the strength to overcome the obstacles that have faced us. Now is the time to come together once again and commit ourselves as an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community to fight for policies that enable us to remain as an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community.

We can not allow political and economic interests to divide us and weaken our ability to stand as a united community. There has been a long, hard struggle in Boston to build an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community to hold this valuable land. It’s our responsibility to continue that struggle.

With a new mayor about to be elected, we have an excellent opportunity to build the political strength to offset the economic forces of gentrification. We should not give our support individually or collectively to any candidate who does not publicly commit to developing policies that maintain balance between low, moderate, and upper income housing not only in Greater Roxbury but also across Boston.

We should not give support to any candidate who does not agree to publicly join the leadership at the Boston Housing Authority in fighting the cuts in the Section 8 program being pushed on us by our federal housing officials. We need a mayor who will stand with us and the people of the city to fight the forces of gentrification and economic injustice. We can’t let the one percent and their allies use their economic and political power to drive us out.

We have demonstrated time after time during the last fifty years that we have the power not only to protect the quality of our lives but also to improve it when we stand together and don’t let economic, political, or social forces divide us. It is time once again to show our commitment to fight for justice. It’s time to unite behind the Kwanzaa principles of Umoja (Unity) and Kugichagulia (Self Determination).

The struggle for justice must continue,

Chuck