Racial & Economic Justice

One Step Back

I find it very disheartening to hear that the progress made against racism in the Town of Chapel Hill's Public Works department could be undone by the departure of two leaders. This indicates that not much progress was made at all, which is exactly what the Black Public Works Association (BPWA) would have probably told us in the first place.

The Black Public Works Association also suggested a number of remedies to the problems. Until the recent change in leadership, workers said, the department had made progress on stemming some of the problems pointed out in previous years.

"We know it is impossible to change attitudes, stereotypes and behavior overnight," Steve England, president of the association, said in a letter signed by eight other employees.

"But because there are no black people in the highest levels, we know that leadership will backslide in its commitments to being even nonracist -- much less the anti-racist commitment that should be the goal of all management."- News & Observer, 4/29/04

"Putting Lipstick on a Pig?"

UNC has been promising for years now to build more student dormitories. Until recently, there had been no new dorms built since the 70's even though enrollment grows every year. The result of this has been more and more students living off-campus, which has lead increasing housing prices as groups of students push working families out of affordable in-town neighborhoods.

With the new Campus Master Plan, UNC has finally begun to construct more housing for students. But lest we breathe a sigh of relief, some members of the UNC Board of Trustees are now proposing to demolish the biggest dorms on campus!

UNC-Chapel Hill's four high-rise dormitories have long been derided as the ugly ducklings of the picturesque campus.

What's Their Problem?

Apparently a bunch of people came out to the Town Council meeting this week to oppose re-naming Airport Road to Martin Luther King Boulevard. I'm pretty surprised - I thought this was a no-brainer.

Local NAACP President Fred Battle bristled Monday at criticism of the idea to rename Airport Road for Martin Luther King Jr., which the Town Council will consider May 24.

Any time there's a call to rename something to honor a black person, the first objection that comes up is how much the renaming would cost, Battle said during a council forum.

"It hardens my heart to see that this type of attitude still exists in this community," he said.

Battle followed seven speakers to the podium, each of whom objected to renaming the road or offered other suggestions. Marie Weiden said she thought it would be better to rename Airport Road for Howard Lee, Chapel Hill's first black mayor and a longtime state senator.
- Chapel Hill Herald, 4/20/04

Town Embraces After Chill

For years, young black folks (mostly from Durham, we're told) have been congregating on the streets after Apple Chill. This wouldn't be a problem except that they clog the streets with their cruising, and they tend to get into fights with each other. Guns have been pulled more than once.

Making 'After Chill' a Town-sanctioned event should be a very effective way to make it uncool and therefore totally unappealing to young folks. Will the kids just find someplace cooler to hang out, or will this dissipate their energy? Either way, it will increase the safety of our strets in Chapel Hill. Kudos to Apple Chill for this effective response.

Caring for Northside's elderly can help stop drug abuse

The Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill is a beautiful place. Many of its residents are now spending their twilight years in the community they helped build. Unfortunately instead of living without worry they have fallen prey to drug users and dealers.

Last week, the Chapel Hill Herald wrote that an 88-year-old woman was arrested for "maintaining a dwelling to keep or sell controlled substances." I can see her porch on Nunn Street from mine on Sunset Drive. She lives near the peninsula of land at the intersection Graham, Whitaker, Sykes, and Nunn Streets which is the heart of the crack trade here in Northside.

[She] is wheelchair-bound and lives in the home, which police say often has been the center of drug sales in the Northside neighborhood. � "[She] was charged after several incidents involving narcotics occurred at her property," [Police Chief] Jarvies said.



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