July 25, 2023
Except maybe for Cherry near Charlotte’s Myers Park, Mecklenburg’s legacy African-American communities have mostly been isolated, separate. Not equal, but surely separate. Out of sight. Initially, and determinedly, outside municipal boundaries and until rather recently beyond the reach of utilities and urban services. Under the trees. Out of sight – and mind – and little known even to African-Americans in other parts of the county.
Not a few participants at this morning’s presentation by Pottstown’s Rachel Zwipf began with really basic questions. Where is Pottstown? Are there stores there? Is it a food desert? Where are the schools?
Zwipf is co-chair of Pottstown Heritage Group, a nonprofit that received its federal 501(3) status last year and is headed by LaToya Rivers. Last Friday, Rivers filed for election to Huntersville’s nonpartisan, six-member Board of Commissioners. Zwipf said Rivers was the first African-American woman ever to stand for election to the board. Out of sight perhaps no more.
Zwipf presented her group’s mission and goals, and outlined community issues involving encroaching gentrification, development of unimproved parkland, ill-maintained infrastructure, the groups that Pottstown Heritage is partnering with to pursue further annexation, services, housing repairs and social services.
But their tasks are much bigger. Zwipf says residents who agreed to be annexed into Huntersville 30 years ago remember what town officials promised, and have not delivered, in terms of infrastructure improvements. Heritage Group’s chores include overcoming this deep vein of skepticism and distrust.
Another unresolved issue is the future of Torrence-Lytle High School, called Huntersville Colored High School when it opened in 1937 and used by CMS until 1966, early in the school district’s desegregation efforts and six years after county and city districts merged. Zwipf sidestepped the school issue, citing pending litigation. More on the school site and pending litigation is here and here.
Zwipf encouraged those interested in helping the organization call 704-490-9352 or e-mail the organization. She said a website would be up soon. And in some indication that this group is finding ways to share the load, Zwipf said the telephone rotates among the organization’s board members a month at a time.
The slides from this morning’s presentation may be downloaded as a PDF here, and appear below the video.