Monday, the City Council will vote on whether or not to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair. The second-largest fair in the state has had many names over the years. It’s been known as the Dixie Classic Fair since 1956. I’m all for changing the name. The name “Dixie” was a reaction to desegregation efforts.
Earlier this week the City of Winston-Salem held its monthly Public Safety News Conference. Chief Catrina A. Thompson announced when and where the WSPD’s backpack program and Cookies With A Cop events would be held. Assistant Chief, Wilson Weaver II announced that this year’s Dixie Classic Fair would have added security measures: bag checks and electronic scanners, to deter weapons from coming into the fairgrounds. Weaver ended his comments by asking the City’s residents to “please continue to attend our events and have fun. We will be there to keep you safe.”
It was one year ago to the day that the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem (HAWS) announced that it was putting Crystal Towers up for sale. The 11-story high-rise located at 625 West Sixth Street in downtown Winston-Salem, opened in 1970 and is home to approximately 200 residents.* According to Heather Fearnbach, the woman who wrote the book on Winston’s architectural heritage, Crystal Towers was the city’s first high-rise dwelling erected since the late 1920s. Crystal Towers, (along with its sister high-rise, Sunrise Towers) was designed to serve as housing for the elderly. Today, one hundred percent of Crystal Towers’ residents are elderly and or people with disabilities. These are the last folks that the Housing Authority should be evicting.
The Winston-Salem City Council will be back in their old form this week. After taking July off, the Council eased their way back last Monday, with a City Council meeting that lasted a mere 16 minutes. With a full slate of committee meetings this week, the Council is back in business. The murder of Julius Sampson continues to be the topic that’s on everyone’s mind. The Mayor held a press conference this morning to address concerns regarding the case.
Despite the fact that Darryl Hunt is an internationally known advocate for justice, there are no memorials in Winston honoring Darryl Eugene Hunt. You won’t find his name on Winston’s new Walk of Fame or his image on any mural. The last substantive piece written on Hunt didn’t exactly do Hunt any favors; it examined his death through the lens of addiction and in some ways tainted his legacy. Winston seems content to allow Hunt to fade from popular memory because so many of the city’s ills are present in the hell that Darryl Hunt endured. When the City christened the Lawrance Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 1989, it was supposed to be an example of racial progress in the city.
Tuesday’s fatal shooting at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, outside of Hanes Mall, was a senseless act of violence. Because a young white man pulled a trigger, three children are without their father and a wife without her husband. In the wake of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, the shooting on Hanes Mall Circle reinforces what we already knew; gun possession leads to gun violence. No space in our nation is safe until gun control laws are passed. The Journal reported that nearly 150 people gathered in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse yesterday to remember Julius “Juice” Sampson, a beloved member of the community.
It’s August, and you know what that means? It’s time for Forsyth County to mail out property tax bills to property owners. Those bills are a good reminder of one reason why you should participate in local government-YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT (directly or indirectly). There isn’t much on the Winston-Salem City Council’s agenda this week. The same is true of the Forsyth County Commissioners’ agenda.
Nearly five months ago, the Confederate statue that stood in downtown Winston-Salem since 1905 was removed by the City of Winston-Salem. That statue was erected, four decades after the Civil War ended to cement Jim Crow segregation. It was an illegitimate participation trophy, meant to terrorize African Americans. Anyone who is uncertain of the purpose of the former statue located at Fourth and Liberty should remember that Alfred Moore Waddell, the racist terrorist who led a bloody coup that ousted Wilmington’s elected government in 1898, spoke at the statue’s dedication. The City of Winston-Salem currently has the unrepentant rebel stored at an undisclosed location.
“Mass evictions are taking place at the Greenway Village Apartments.” That’s what a friend of mine with Housing Justice Now told me on Saturday.* I stopped by Greenway Village Monday afternoon to see if I could verify what I had been told and to encourage anyone facing eviction to fight back. The Greenway Village Apartments are located just behind the former St. Phillips Moravian Church. The one-story frame apartments were built in the late 1940s to address a severe housing shortage after World War II.
The City of Winston-Salem describes the soon-to-open Union Station as a “inter-modal transportation facility” that will serve “as a regional and local bus terminal and later expanding to include regional and long-distance passenger rail service.” When the City took Union Station from Harvey Davis, via eminent domain they were mandated to use Union Station for public transportation. Thus, Union Station will be a bus station for the foreseeable future and perhaps one day a train station. But not any time soon. Though Council Members have assured us that Union Station won’t replace Clark Campbell, that’s cleary what some downtown leaders desire.
A couple of days ago, the Winston-Salem Journal reported on the growing unrest amongst the city’s capitalist class, who are tired of ‘aggressive’ panhandling. The manufactured crisis began when Bobby Finch of Triad Commerical Properties sent an email to his fellow downtown muckety-mucks. Finch proposed moving “the Clark Campbell Transportation Center and drug-treatment center on Fourth Street, saying both draw panhandlers.” Jason Thiel, president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, didn’t advocate moving anything. But he told the Journal that “this summer has seen a significant increase in aggressive panhandling in Winston-Salem.”
The Journal recently announced that construction on Business 40/Salem Parkway is over 50 percent completed. That’s welcome news for commuters trying there best to get around Winston. With several bridges now open (the Liberty Street Bridge being the most recent) traveling through Downtown Winston is no problem. Getting into downtown from East Third, Fourth, or Fifth Streets can be a slow process. Getting around Winston, traveling from Greensboro to Clemmons on Interstate 40 is a real challenge.
Greater Cleveland Avenue Christian Church lost its campus on Lansing Drive over a month ago. You may or not believe in God. But no one can doubt the power of compound interest. Greater Cleveland was in a hell of a lot of debt, and the miracle that their bishop was waiting for never materialized. I’ve been thinking about the significance of a Black congregation having to hand over keys to a bank and walk away from a property that they put millions into.
After several months of sustained activism (passing out flyers, hosting public events and attending long school board meetings) Hate Out of Winston, a local activist group that came together during Winston’s Confederate statue controversy has succeeded in getting WSFC Schools to consider universal African American history classes in the fall. (Mandatory sounds so negative, learning African American history is a positive for WS/FCS students regardless of the color of their skin. That’s why I’m using the term universal instead of mandatory.)
Earlier today, Triad City Beat reported that “that the curriculum committee of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board will consider adding a mandatory African-American studies class to the high school curriculum at its October meeting.” Jordan Green’s article noted that several local Black politicians are publicly supporting universal African American history classes. Student Minister Effrainguan Muhammad told Green that the “Winston-Salem Local Organizing Committee has been asking for a mandatory African-American studies course for the past three years” only to get the runaround from the WSFC School Board.
It’s time to pass a budget. The nearly $500 million, 2019-2020 City of Winston-Salem budget dominates today’s City Council agenda. Higher taxes to pay for bond obligations and stagnant pay for city workers, while councilmembers received a huge raise-these are some of the topics that will be discussed at today’s City Council meeting. The City Council will also debate purchasing land on Burke Mill Road for a new fire station. As usual, some topics that need to be discussed will be ignored.