Thoughts on Evergreen

As I was reading about the Evergreen neighborhood (in preparation for the Purple Team’s documenting of objects relevant to Evergreen and to the Civil Rights era) I noticed an interesting trend. Throughout the community’s history, it has unified to fight for those events that most threatened its residents. The most famous of these is the 1950s plan to build an expressway through Overton Park and the Evergreen community. The residents showed sheer tenacity in their opposition to the expressway. Even when the city and state decided that the expressway (which symbolized “progress”) would be inevitable, the residents and local lawyers used the courts to fight for their community’s preservation. Their will was fierce, so much so that the Supreme Court, in a landmark case, asked a lower court to review its decision. Finally, a confluence of tough economic times and litigation was enough to shelve the expressway project. Truly, the Evergreen community came together and persevered.

However, a darker side of the community’s history also involves perseverance. In 1926, the residents united to fight a very different battle. The community came together to raise funds in order to purchase land, with the sole objective of preventing blacks from building homes near their residences. And in 1973, when Plan Z forced the integration of Snowden School, many white residents left the area. Before 1973, Snowden was all-white. In 1976, the school was 75% black. These events, however, were larger trends in white America and are  not extraordinary. However, the community’s history of tenacity and perseverance do make it remarkable and extraordinary.

Arijit Paul

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 1:50 pm  Comments Off on Thoughts on Evergreen  
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