The News & Observer reported that Raleigh Leaders apologize for racist past. At the City Council’s afternoon meeting July 5, 2023, the city of Raleigh apologized for its enforcement of and benefit from slavery, segregation and “urban renewal” programs that destroyed Black communities in the city.
The irony of this council putting forth this apology at this time was not lost on the public.
Several referred to the apology as they addressed the Council during the public comments portion of the evening session. Speaker Jeremy Gilchrest asked, now that you have apologized for the city’s racist past, including urban renewal, who is going to apologize for the current racism that we see systemically gutting out the black community?
Just two weeks prior, five members of Council, Mayor Mary-Ann Bladwin and Councilors Jonathan Melton, Stormie Forte, Corey Branch and Jane Harrison, approved the upzoning of Shaw University completely ignoring the City’s Land Use policy. That policy designates the property where Shaw University is located as a “Transition Area.” It was intended to protect the historic Black community of South Park from the intense development of Raleigh’s Central Business District and from gentrification. But, because of this vote, the protection has been stripped away.
Before the Shaw University case, there was the Dix Edge Study, and this Council did little to nothing to protect the existing communities on the edge of Dix Park. Bob Geary wrote about that in an earlier piece saying:
“The challenge for City Council, therefore, is to lift up the good ideas, flesh them out, and make them law first, and quickly, before it’s too late – before the onslaught of speculative rezoning cases is allowed to doom all of the “Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing” (NOAH) in the Dix Edge area and preclude any new affordable housing from coming in.” Read the full piece here: Dix Edge Study
The next test for this council will be whether they care to protect what remains of the Black communities along Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes from the displacement that will be brought by the Transit Overlay Districts (TOD) and new market rate housing.
Read about the TOD here: With TOD, the city removes your last remaining protections.
As it stands, Mayor Baldwin and council members like Jonathan Melton are happy to continue turning Raleigh into an exclusive enclave for the wealthy.
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