Displacing Black People and Culture, Gentrification: The New "Negro Removal" Program: A Call for an Emergency Summit.

Author:Daniels, Ron
Position:Institute of the Black World 21st Century's call for National Emergency Summit on Gentrification in April 2019

Gentrification has emerged as a major threat to Black communities that have been centers for Black business/economic development, cultural and civic life for generations. Gentrification has become the watch-word for the displacement of Black people and culture. Gentrification is the "Negro Removal Program" of the 21st Century. There is an urgent need for people of African descent to mount a serious offensive to defend Black communities from this insidious onslaught. During the Civil Rights, Black Power era, the term "Negro Removal" was virtually synonymous with "Urban Renewal," local, state and federal highway and development projects that often disconnected and destroyed stable Black communities.

It was not unusual for a local highway project designed to benefit residents from the suburbs or a component of an Interstate Highway system to be routed through the center of a Black community, uprooting and displacing Black people or permanently weakening businesses, institutions, networks and relationships that bound folks together. As advocates for Black entrepreneurship correctly urge Black people to create and support Black business districts in our communities, it is useful to remember that Urban Renewal destroyed thriving business districts in Black communities across the country in the latter part of the 20th Century. In fact, there is a historical pattern of marginalizing, subverting or outright destroying Black communities to thwart our ability to achieve full political and economic empowerment and equity in this nation. Gentrification is the latest manifestation of this pattern.

There are a multiplicity of testimonies about this destructive phenomena. The caption of a feature article in the May 2, 2018 edition of the New York Times captured the essence of the crisis confronting Black communities across the country:

The article details how the revitalization of Durham, N.C. has increasingly meant development/progress for middle and upper-income Whites, but displacement for large numbers of Black working-class and middle-class people who can no longer afford to live in certain sections of the city. An article in the October 21, 2018 Edition of the Houston Chronicle is also illustrative of the growing concern about gentrification in Black America: "

In Atlanta, the "Black Mecca" of the South, Vine City, the neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights and political leader Julian Bond lived, no longer exists. It was...

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