Much like the city renewal insurance policies of the Nineteen Fifties and 60s in American cities, Halifax determined to relocate the residents of Africville to be able to construct industrial and industrial districts within the space. In 1964, the Halifax Metropolis Council voted to authorize the relocation of residents, although it was later reported that greater than 80 p.c of residents by no means had contact with the Halifax Human Rights Advisory Committee, the volunteer residents’ group created to guard the pursuits of the folks of Africville. The town claimed that relocation would enhance the usual of dwelling for residents, however most had been moved into public housing complexes. Including insult to damage, the belongings of residents had been moved by metropolis rubbish vehicles; regardless of a lot resistance, the final dwelling in Africville was destroyed in 1970. The town issued a proper apology to former residents in 2010.
As I approached the sunny yellow church the place the Africville Museum is housed, and gazed on the calm waters of Bedford Basin, it was straightforward to think about a neighborhood of youngsters taking part in, households fishing and people gathering collectively after a church service. I observed that the park behind the museum (as soon as briefly a canine park in 2014 earlier than Africville descendants expressed outrage) was full of campers, tents and R.V.s. After I seen historic pictures, information segments and protest memorabilia with an Africville descendant, Marc Carvery, whose grandfather was forcibly eliminated in his youth and to this present day can’t focus on the expertise, Mr. Carvery casually talked about that the approaching weekend was the Africville Reunion.
Now in its thirty ninth 12 months, the annual homecoming is widely known on the finish of July by former residents who park their campers the place their properties would have been, cooking, singing, dancing and reliving recollections. I made my manner into the camp and instantly a lady so strikingly just like my very own aunties waved me over to speak. Compelled from Africville on the age of 15 and now in her late 60s, Paula Grant-Smith took a deep sigh when recalling that traumatic expertise.
“Rising up right here was fantastic. If I fell and skinned my knee, I might go into any home they usually’d patch me proper up,” stated Ms. Grant-Smith. “If I wanted a snack, I might go cease by my neighbors they usually’d feed me. I get very unhappy once I take into consideration Africville, particularly as I grow old as a result of we had a lot freedom to play but additionally really feel protected.”
As she regaled me with recollections of her childhood and previous reunions, I felt that unusual phenomenon of how alike so many Black communities are. Her description of Africville might have been my mom’s Black neighborhood in southwest Louisiana, or my father’s in Montgomery, Ala.: neighborhoods which have seen their share of destruction due to racist authorities insurance policies, but have someway maintained a spirit of affection, household and hope.