Change is inevitable. I welcome change. Roxbury has changed from my mother’s day to mine to my children and grandchildren. On a Saturday afternoon I could grab my change and head to one of three theaters on Washington Street. Yes, at one time there were three theaters, The Dudley, the Riverlee and the Uptown. But with all the gentrification in motion for Dudley Square, I want to know if there will be a black neighborhood for my grandchildren to play in. To learn, work, shop and raise their children.
Yes, I’m thinking long term. I’m planning like the government plans. I’m trying to set in motion a fury of black leaders who don’t want their community overrun by big-box stores like Walmart and Subway, driving off our Nubian Notions and Silver Slippers. Black people have to form coalitions, buy land, start businesses and support those businesses if we don’t want to get squeezed out of communities that we’ve lived in all of our lives.
Opportunists will find any entry they can and come in. Next thing you know the neighborhood you grew up in is now a Walmart taking up 20 acres of land. The Dorchester and Roxbury area is filled with culture, rich in history. The thought of it becoming a generic town is heartbreaking. We can’t allow this to be done. Dudley Square was my old stomping ground. I used to play in the alley where the Haley House now stands.
This is why I’m so passionate about our Dudley Square; this is why Brother Lowe, many others including myself protested for 35 days straight for jobs for Boston residents. I know bus stops have to be eventually moved and bike trails constructed, but I don’t want to lose my community. I don’t want it wiped out. Roxbury… so rich with history. Malcolm X walks these streets. His spirit is still here. We have to make sure it stays in our hands. We are Roxbury. I’m still fortunate enough to occasionally drive by my mother’s house on West Walnut Park, I wonder how long that will last.
This has been a public service announcement from your Dudley Square Jazz Diva, Fulani Haynes.