It’s reunion weekend in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville
It’s reunion weekend in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville.
Russell: A Place of Promise, a development project carried out in partnership with the city, is organizing a series of events to commemorate the neighborhood and its residents. They include educational, faith-based, and networking opportunities for black business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
One of the planners is Cassandra Webb, research director at the non-profit organization Cities United. She said Russell’s Homecoming Events aim to instill pride and belonging in past and current residents, much like coming home to college or high school.
“It’s so much about a community, about coming home… coming back and saying ‘I’m going to invest financially’, or ‘I’m going to volunteer’, or ‘I’m going to be a mentor’ or ” I’m going to support the neighborhood to some extent, ”Webb said.
Russell, in the city’s West End, was once considered the Harlem of the South. He was known for his booming black-owned businesses and commercial strip along what is now Muhammad Ali Boulevard. It also houses the West Branch Library – the country’s first fully-managed public library serving black residents.
Due to racist policies like redness, the Federal Law on Interstate Highways 1956 and the targeted gentrification efforts that persist today, the once flourishing domain was no longer in the 1960s, just like other predominantly black neighborhoods across the country.
Russell: a place of promise has the declared mission of creating wealth in the neighborhood through home ownership and workforce development, without moving its residents.
“For years black people, especially those who have lived in the West End, have been excluded from decision making,” said Webb. “That’s why it’s so important, especially when we’re talking about dollars coming into the neighborhood, that these are led by the residents and that they own the place where these investments occur. “
Webb’s colleague Daphne Walker added that meaningful engagement is the key to effective change that truly benefits the community and its members.
“When you start the process of centering residents, it is passed down from generation to generation and begins to create a sense of belonging to the neighborhood, a sense of stability – which is very important for success in life,” Walker said. .
But social justice advocates at the Root Cause Research Center argue getting residents to the table is not enough. Instead, they would like to see the group invest money directly into the community so residents can create tools that help them stay in the neighborhood. Tools like a land trust – a measure that would allow residents to monitor changes in their community. It would also stabilize the affordability of housing.