On meeting more and more people who were adults in the period before R4 redevelopment, a continuity shows up that runs to prior to the Civil War. The founding of Newtown, for example, involved a highly educated African American whose family has been free from almost Revolutionary times, and men who had developed high level skills at a large plantation at the technological cutting edge of its time. The media of the time is replete with testimony to the power of this community through time. Living memory has ample testimony that the non-African American community had to show respect to their fellow community members, even while the larger institutional frameworks of slavery and segregation exerted their pernicious force. Within this context, the Urban Renewal razing of the economic power base of the community was particularly devastating.
Lessons for today: processes for municipal decision making draw upon existing social structures. At times, parts of the community have been excluded by statute. At other times, or in addition, they have been informally excluded. In the present, there are fewer formal barriers but people still feel disfranchised due to social status or formal education. Nurturing in-person community lets multiple social contexts come into being, such as churches, where a person who has low social status in the outside world of white supremacy, may have high social status. Formal education is notoriously poor for solving community problems. A municipality hosting a diversity of social contexts can harbor a very rich resource for municipal government. Harrisonburg's street renaming process, the apex of recent upsurges in community engagement, is an example of tapping this wealth.
We saw in this process that much anxiety was caused because people, such as white male university professors, or well-off business owners who were accustomed to getting their way and being in charge found that on a level playing field their contributions were no more valuable than those of community members of very different socioeconomic status and formal educational status ('progressive' community leaders also seemed miffed at this).
7th anniversary of Colored Hospital Aid:
The Colored Woman's Hospital Auxiliary makes donations to the Red Cross: DNRjan91931redcross.pdf
Colored Auxiliary Seeks Hospital Equipment: DNRdec121935auxiliary.pdf
RMH budget $104,303.55 for 1935: DNRjan131936finances.pdf
Doc Dickerson was not allowed to perform operations at the local hospital, so of necessity he set up an office in Washington, D. C. in addition to the one in Harrisonburg. Whenever he had a patient who needed an operation, that patient had to go to Washington, D. C. where Dr. Dickerson performed the operation at Freedman's Hospital where he had privileges. There were very few, if any, rooms set up to accommodate blacks at the hospital in Harrisonburg; during the convalescent period blacks remained in the hall in the basement of Rockingham Memorial.p. 97 Keeping up with yesterday
Steve Reich writes of militant, including armed, resistance to Jim Crow in Texas in the teens in countering the impression that the NAACP was ineffective and African Americans passive. In fact, they faced overwhelming force: Soldiers of Democracy.
Harrisonburg also has such history. Numerous examples of this are documented in Ruth Toliver's Keeping up with Yesterday
In the telling of Ambrose and Reuben Dallard's escape from the Yancy Riverbank Plantation during the Civil War, Toliver writes:
"[the mistress'] son tried to stop the two brothers by shooting through the buggy; when the bullets missed, he proceeded to pursue them on horseback. When he caught up with Ambrose and Reuben, they protected themselves by using physical force against the assailant. They left their attacker in the road, and continued their sojourn."p. 16.
Excerpt from 1890's poem by G. A. Newman, of Harrisonburg VA
Chorus:- We know not where to take our case To get ourselves relieved. As Uncle Sam's not in the race When Afric's Sons are grieved; So we must rise in self defence. Though humble we may be. And show, by using common sense, That we will still be free. Chorus:- No more excursions for our race To this place and to that, Let us presume it a disgrace, And sit down on them flat. Then, when they see we have the grit To boycott, near and far, They'll change the law, and let us sit In any proper car.From just after the 1902 disfranchisement:
It was [George A.] Newman and Ulysses G. Wilson who led the drive for blacks to become registered voters. At this time a poll tax and evidence of literacy was required; consequently classes were held in local churches so that all blacks who desired, could become literate and thus register to vote; Wilson and Newman paid the poll tax for those who could not afford to do so. Below is a list of the registered voters among the blacks, circa 1908: [ 75]
From 1903, Ruth Toliver describes the reaction to the Rockingham Register's obituary of Reuben Dallard (linked at race section)
When Reuben was referred to as a 'darkey,' Ambrose felt the full reality of his status as a black man. The shackles had been removed; he had become a land owner; he provided for his family; he was respected in the community; regardless of all he felt he had accomplished, he was still a 'darkey.' Seeing that term brought back the horrors of the days when he was not a free man, when he could not fend for his family, when he was propery subject to any name that would be assigned to him at any given time.She follows up with a hateful reply by the editors, that, while retracting and apologizing, at the same time rubs salt in the wound after an evident show of rage by the community. p. 28
From the prohibition era:
"Dr. Stratton did not stay for too long a period as he never felt he could make a decent living at the profession in Harrisonburg; however, Dr. Dickerson maintained a productive practice which included both black and whit patients. He often laughed at the evening members of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan decided to meet on Red Hill. They assembled in full regalia in order to hide their identity, but it was Doc Dickerson who went to several, spoke to those he recognized and even called them by name. On another occasion the Klan decided to march up Main Street only to be told they would not get as far as the Kavanaugh Hotel as Mr. Kavanaugh and his group had guns and were prepared to stop the foolishness before it even got started."P. 97