Frustration remains decades after Roanoke’s urban renewal projects
ROANOKE, Va. – This article is a continuation of a previous piece published in August focusing on the lasting effects of urban renewal on Roanoke’s Black community. Throughout history, urban renewal in Roanoke, in many cases, meant splintering that community. Many people who are still alive continue to feel the pain of being uprooted by those urban renewal projects. “Urban renewal just came in with a sledgehammer,” said Dr. Reginald Shareef, a Radford University professor with a Ph.D. in public administration from Virginia Tech. Shareef grew up in Roanoke and later researched the impact on Roanoke’s urban renewal project, publishing the book, “An Evaluation of the Impact of Federal Urban Renewal and Redevelopment Programs on Three Roanoke, VA Neighborhoods” in 1992.
Urban renewal, redlining still have lasting effects on Roanokes Black communities
ROANOKE, Va. A crucial way to understand systemic racism and its effects on generations is by taking a look at discriminatory housing practices, urban renewal and redlining. Roanokes Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial stands just steps away from Roanokes Henry Street Historic District, which was once the cultural and business center of the predominantly Black Gainsboro neighborhood. Over time, urban renewal projects and the practice of redlining fractured these communities. A Black man with similar income could not, so he had to get a high-risk high-interest loan, or no loan at all. Census Bureau figures show that today, the average white family has 10 times the wealth of the average Black family.