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Thread: Africville: A Community Displaced History

  1. #1
    Peace Love n Pretty Tings LB is offline
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    Apr 2010
    At the Crossroads

    Africville: A Community Displaced History

    studied this stuff a while ago so I got a couple details off. Black Canadians out East came from the Chesapeake area in the States, but for us out West it was States like Louisiana and Oklahoma especially that many came from. Most of my black Canadian friends, their forefathers came from Oklahoma.

    Here is some research done and submitted to the govt archives by someone's great grand-daughter about what happened in Africville. This was only one settlement in Canada populated by Canadian blacks.

    The History of Africville As Told by the People of Africville As Told by the People of Africville

    By Irvine Carvery

    Most references to the founding of the community of Africville say it was started by refugees of the War of 1812. These new Black immigrants, who were former slaves in the Chesapeake area of the United States, had fought for the British Crown, with the promise of freedom for their participation. When the war ended they were relocated to Nova Scotia. The story goes that upon arrival, many of the refugees were settled in Preston, outside of Halifax, while a few found their way to the land that became known as Africville.
    The oral history of the community as told by my great-grandfather to me while we sat on my grandmother's sun porch differed greatly. At the time (around 1960), my great-grandfather was in his nineties, meaning that he was born around 1870. His own grandparents, from whom he learned the oral history, would have been born around 1800. My great-grandfather told us stories about "them thar' people," and would point to an area of the community and talk about how these people were different from the other people of Africville, how they kept to themselves, and how the men were in the military because they had uniforms with bright shiny buttons.
    As a young child, these stories fascinated me. But when I became older and started to research the history of our community, I came across the journals and writings of Governor John Wentworth who was governor from 1792 to 1808, the period when the Jamaican Maroons came to Nova Scotia. Wentworth housed the majority of the Maroons in the Preston area, but did move several of the Maroon families to two other areas, Maroon Hill and, in 1798 (well before the War of 1812), the shores of Bedford Basin. The Bedford Basin settlement became known as Africville.
    In fact, the people of Africville themselves have their own belief about the community's origins: the community was started at the founding of Halifax in 1749 by those Black slaves that the British brought over to clear and farm the land. If this is true, then Blacks began living in Africville a full 50 years earlier than historians claim Africville began. This makes sense in the light of Wentworth's settling Maroons there. He moved them to where there was an existing Black community.
    From the very beginning, the people of Africville lived in a society that was overtly racist toward people of African descent. While it was within Halifax's city boundaries, Africville was nevertheless separated from its mainstream—first by being a Black community in a white society, and second by its physical location: it was distant from the core of the city. As a result, the development of Africville was ignored by city planners, as historical accounts by Black and white writers, and by the residents themselves, reveal. From the start, Africville was always on its own.
    Industrial Expansion and Expropriation
    From the middle of the 19th century, the city of Halifax experienced an industrial boom and its population more than doubled between 1851 and 1915. Africville felt the negative brunt of this development. The city permitted industrial growth along the shores of Bedford Basin to encroach on the residential area of Africville. A bone-meal plant that manufactured fertilizer was constructed just a few hundred metres from the settlement. A cotton factory, a rolling mill/nail factory, a slaughterhouse and a port facility for handling coal completed the first ring of encirclement.
    In the 1850s, railroad tracks were laid straight through the community, and land was expropriated from Africville residents for this purpose. They learned to live with this intrusion, even though the railroad failed to put up crossing signals where the residents had to cross the tracks to get from one side of the community to the other. The Halifax Civic Planning Commission recognized that these developments produced "blight and decay spreading over large areas, thereby resulting in serious reduction of residential values," yet they took no steps to prevent this deterioration of the community.
    Moreover, racism and the Africville residents' lack of economic or political influence made the area a choice location for city service facilities not wanted elsewhere. The city closed its sewage disposal pits in the south end of Halifax and relocated them to the edge of Africville in 1858. An Infectious Diseases Hospital was built on a hill overlooking the community in the 1870s, followed by a Trachoma Hospital in 1905. Such developments continued into the 20th century, with a stone-crushing plant and an abattoir built on the edges of the settlement. Finally, the city moved the large open city dump, labelled a health menace by the city council and resisted by residents in other areas, to a site just 100 metres from the westernmost group of Africville homes.
    Halifax city council minutes clearly indicate that, in addition to using the area for facilities not tolerated in other (white) neighbourhoods, the eventual industrial use of Africville lands was planned. As Halifax was experiencing industrial expansion, the city council adopted several resolutions to expropriate the Africville lands. While for one reason or another these resolutions were not acted upon, the city's policy was spelled out in the following response to an interested business in 1915:
    The Africville portion of Campbell Road will always be an industrial district and it is desirable that industrial operations should be assisted in any way that is not prejudiced to the interest of the public; in fact, we may be obliged in the future to consider the interests of industry first.
    Thus the records show that the city fathers saw Africville as a place to be expropriated for the city's use—something that could be done because the Africvilleans were Black and poor. These residents had no social, political or economic power to stop the city from using their community as a dump, in every sense, and from taking their land.
    Africville families had, over the years, petitioned the city of Halifax for such modern amenities as running water, sewage disposal, paved roads, garbage removal, electricity, street lights, police services and even a cemetery, but they were refused. The residents sent numerous petitions to city council asking for assistance to bring their community up to standard, including the issuance of building permits to meet the city's building codes and bylaws—all to no avail. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise that in the 1950s the city began to discuss bulldozing Africville and relocating its residents. City council claimed that Africville was a "slum" and an "eyesore." The council spent little time discussing its plans with the people of Africville, and simply informed the residents that their community would be demolished. The people of Africville pleaded with the city to help them upgrade their community instead of destroying it, but it was not to be.

    Read rest here cause article is too long:

    History - Africville: A Community Displaced - Under a Northern Star - Library and Archives Canada
    Lucianite and DSP like this.
    ~ If you make the mountain any bigger you wont be able to move it later

  2. #2
    Registered User LIONESS onda RISE is offline
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    Jul 2008
    nice read

  3. #3
    Vex like T-Rex T-Vex's Avatar T-Vex is offline
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    Mar 2012
    My home
    I always get mad when I read about this.

  4. #4
    Registered User sankofaa's Avatar sankofaa is offline
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    Mar 2006
    never knew about this, nice read

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