My family has been living in Atlanta’s Westside community for the past three years. This community has played significant roles during the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. This was once a prideful community that flourished. The people were upwardly mobile and driven to succeed and create opportunities, for the poor, where there were none.
Today, it is home to over 30,000 residents coping with failing schools, high unemployment and low wage jobs, high crime, limited resources, and decaying infrastructure. Community sense of pride is gone. This is evident in our educational system, and in the overall health of community residents. The neighborhoods have literally become eyesores to the point that our community is not even included in the Brand Atlanta campaign. If we hadn’t moved here, I would never have known, first hand, the needs of the community and how to address them. We live and share in the same struggles that many other poor and underserved people in our community experience. This is the reason why we have chosen this community to launch CHEC Pro. Through collective organizing and effective services, we will be able to successfully address these issues.
Most inner-city communities have been in economic recession for decades, and abject-poverty has been the root issue for the social, political, environmental conditions. I, founder CHEC Pro, Inc., plan to provide people with the necessary resources to change their socio-economic condition. These resources will be in the form of programs and services and social enterprises.
Our programs and services will provide the people with resources that address grass roots issues like, youth delinquency, health disparities, substandard education and low-level job skills, as well as environmental and infrastructure deterioration. Our social enterprises will provide community residents with gainful job opportunities; and aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary training and financial resources for business development- thereby ensuring the socio-economic redevelopment of the community. I think it’s time the term “community redevelopment” becomes inclusive of all the residents of the community, and not just a fancy term politicians use for gentrification.
In 1890 a photojournalist named Jacob Riis, shocked middle and upper class Americans with the publication of his book, How the Other Half Lives, which shed tremendous light on the squalor of poverty in big cities and led to major reforms for the poor. However, enough had not changed for most minorities in these communities by the late 1960s, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died before he could carry out his plan to address these conditions. Some 40 years later, I hope to accomplish more. I don’t want to be just another voice for the poor. I want to give my people change that is real. Change that last!
Until next time…God bless!
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