A formal debate usually involves three groups: one supporting a resolution (affirmative team). The City Manager of Rocky Mount is defending the merits of forming a CLT. There is a team opposing the resolution (opposing team), that is represented by this Main Street Blog Post, and those who are judging the quality of the evidence and arguments in the debate, the citizens of Rocky Mount.
The CLT model was intentionally created and first implemented during the late 1960s by African American leaders in rural Albany, Georgia. The historic roots of the CLT model are linked with the goals of the national civil rights movement: supporting African American families to own and control land and achieve greater economic security. Today’s model is based on nonprofit organizations for collective community ownership of land, governed by a board of directors, including representation by community residents.
In 2022, the advocates for the CLT argue that public policies shaping development in these areas are historically, intentionally, and systematically unfair. Professor Jim Johnson of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School basically said that black neighborhoods are impacted by historically racist, and exclusionary policies (My words). Mr. Johnson served up the need for CLT using the words Inclusive and equitable. In 2022, I am appalled at how convenient it is to blame the conditions of our housing on racism rather than on the long-term leadership in the wards that have failed to preserve and protect its housing. I am against starting any project built on a premise that racism is the reason for the state of things. This was avoidable and falls at the feet of the long term black councilmen.
Ward 1, Andre Knight 2003-2023 – 20 YEARS Ward 2, Rueben Blackwell 2000-2021 – 21 YEARS Ward 3, Lamont Wiggins 1997-2018 – 21 YEARS Richard Joyner 2019-2021 -2 YEARS Ward 4, Lois Watkins 2007-2019 – 12 YEARS T.J. Walker 2019-2023 4 YEARS
I’m not saying that nothing good has ever happened in Wards 1-4, but the number of boarded up and deteriorating houses are measurable. People living in disrepair and in crime pockets are measurable.
The night Professor Johnson spoke at City Council, I walked down the stairs with people after the meeting. As we descended the stairs, different voices said variations of the same concern. “It depends on who appoints this board.”
As for the proposed management team, Small-Toney said they would establish a small core of people, primarily from the community as well as one or two people who work in banking and real estate in Rocky Mount, to comprise the initial group, which in turn would seek nonprofit status and put the rules of the community land trust in place. The result would be a partnership between an independent group and the city. The City Manager is the prime advocate in this matter. It is not too late for the current Councilmen to stop this effort. Think how far down the street in designated areas the money paid Kenan- Flagger at UNC could have gone.
Today, the condition of housing in Wards 1-4 cannot be blamed on racism, but that in twenty-plus-years, of the same black leadership, statistics in the Wards have been depressed to qualify for Grant money. It is about control, and the the MY WilL BE DONE Agenda. Rocky Mount is not able to count on the decision making of The City Manager, and long term Councilmen, at this time based on prior experience with them. The Community Land Trust should be dead in the water until further notice. (Scroll down for comments)
Adding a note to this post after Monday Night’s City Council meeting. 1-10-22. The Council voted to table the vote on the Community Land Trust. A prudent decision. Thank you.
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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