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Norfolk Southern Land Grab Painful Reminder of African-American Housing Struggle


Since 2008, Norfolk Southern Corp. has attempted a hostile takeover of Black-owned homes in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. The $34.5 billion corporation, headquartered a stone's throw from a Confederate monument in Virginia, is trying to expand a massive intermodal freight yard in our community. The size of this sprawling project is an unprecedented 84 acres. It would completely level our homes and bury our traditions.

Norfolk Southern's actions are the latest example in a long history of bullying, disrespect and outright violence that's confronted African-Americans over decades as they sought the American Dream. 

Even when Blacks achieved that Dream, it could be destroyed overnight, as in the Tulsa riots of 1921 (pictured), when a White mob burned down an entire 35-block district of Greenwood, Oklahoma. Dubbed the "Black Wall Street" because of its thriving business and social community, this neighborhood was firebombed from the sky and street, levelling 1,200 homes and leaving 10,000 people homeless. An estimated 100-300 African-Americans died in the attack, which also burned down the two "Black" hospitals in the area. A similar horrific episode occurred earlier, on July 13, 1863, in New York City. There, a racist mob attacked the Colored Orphan Asylum, burning it to the ground. The 233 children inside narrowly escaped with their lives. Of course there are many other examples of intimidation--and worse. 

Home is also supposed to be a "safe harbor," something that African-Americans throughout their history in the U.S. have struggled to find, due to institutionalized racism that posed a constant threat. Today,Norfolk Southern Corp.'s actions in Englewood are once again putting Black homes and families at risk.

The Englewood Railway Coalition is helping our homeowners fight for their dignity, freedom and rights as hard-working American citizens. We look back on the historical challenges that Blacks have faced in this country, including the struggles to own our own homes despite discriminatory bank lending and other "redlining" practices. In 2015, we say we have come too far and fought too hard to allow Norfolk Southern to take our homes and our history away.  

For continuous updates on this issue, follow ERC on Facebook

Keywords: civil rights, Englewood, Englewood Railway Coalition, homeowners, Norfolk Southern, Railroad expansion

Posted in Business News, Community Organizations

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