February 17, 2004

Africville Redux

[via Atrios]: The New York Times has a story on Zanesville, Ohio that someone might want to forward to Dinesh D'Souza:
The commission found that on Coal Run Road, none of the 17 black or mixed-race homes had city water service, while two white homes did. On nearby Langan Lane, all of the 18 white homes on top of the hill had city water, while five of the eight black or mixed-race homes in the hollow did not. (The other three families had connected to the municipal lines by themselves.)
The story reminded me of Africville, a historic Black community on the northern shore of Halifax, Nova Scotia. While the rest of the city was developed, Africville was denied basic municipal services like plumbing and paved roads. Instead it got the dump, the slaughterhouse, the "night soil" deposit pits (now there's a euphemism for ya), the infectious disease hospital, and so on. When residents petitioned for basic infrastructure, they were given the same excuses as in Zanesville: a) the ground is too rough; b) it's outside the city limits.

By the mid-20th century Africville had become an eyesore and embarrassment to the city establishment. Their liberal, benevolent solution was not to bring in the asphalt and sewer pipes, but to bring in the bulldozers. Africville was razed to the ground. Now it's a park and a harbor bridge ramp.

Here's a bit of background from the CBC.

Here's a link to Africville Suite, a wicked cool jazz cd by Joe Sealy, a son of Africville.