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Residents continue discussions to protect historically Black neighborhoods with call to action

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 10:13 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Two weeks ago more than one hundred residents came out to Shady Grove Primitive Baptist Church for a discussion of how to protect and preserve historically Black neighborhoods and in a second meeting pews were still packed and organizers had a call to action.

Residents like Terri Bailey from Pleasant St. or Monica Fraiser from Springhill have been living in historically black neighborhoods their whole life. It’s land that has been in their families for years.

Related story: Residents voice concerns at discussion for protecting historically Black communities

Terri Bailey said she recently went on a tour of seminary lane and fifth avenue and there are new buildings and homes but less black people in historic areas.

“We are two of the few Black people left in our neighborhood on our street which is Northwest 4th St,” Bailey said. “We are not asking for exclusivity. We do not wish to be a Black utopia and I’ve been saying this for years and years…that’s not what the goal is. We’re sick of being erased and excluded. It’s not right.”

They said developments like high rise apartment complexes are gentrifying their communities.

“I don’t want my neighborhood to look significantly different,” Frazier said. “I don’t want the development to come in.”

They are afraid that not just their communities are at risk but also people they elected in office like Alachua County School Board member Diyonne Mcgraw who is claimed to have been elected in the wrong district.

“They are still people who know this area, who have grown up in this area and you see they are starting to even mess with them,” Bailey said.

Related story: Residents shed light on gentrification in historically Black community, Porters Quarters

Organizers said the main message is to get the community involved by joining advisory boards, making calls and attending commission meetings like the upcoming one headed by Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson.

“Abominations like this one thousand bed student apartment in Seminary Lane should not be possible if more voices are involved,” speaker Kali Blount said.

Commissioner Johnson is proposing a plan that would ensure the city and developers notify and hear from the public about development and changes in their neighborhoods.

“Email, we need phone calls and we need a very public campaign and we need to utilize our power,” speaker Chanae Jackson said.

The commission meeting is this Monday, June 14 at 5 p.m. You can join in person or virtually.

For a link to join online, click HERE.

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