By Frederick H. Lowe
The Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will join with 1 Woodlawn, a community organization, to address gentrification in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side that is causing concern among longtime residents who fear they will be pushed out of the area. Woodlawn is slated to become a magnet for tourism, new businesses and higher real estate prices.
Current residents’ concerns are being sparked by the location of the Obama Presidential Library, Tiger Woods’ redesign of the Jackson Park Golf Course, the University of Chicago’s continued expansion, as well as the success of the city’s Micro Market Recovery Program, and other programs, 1Woodlawn posted on its website.
“These achievements have also unavoidably fanned the flames of displacement fear. In a community where more than 77 percent of all households are renting that distress is not unfounded,” 1Woodlawn added.
To get a better understanding of gentrification, Theta Omega and 1 Woodlawn will present the documentary “Gentrified Ethnic Cleansing: American Style” Friday, May 18 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the AkArama Foundation Community Service Center, 6220 S. Ingleside, which is located in Woodlawn. The showing is free to the public. Those who plan to attend should RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The film is an in-depth look at gentrification taking place in the USA, focusing on social engineering and how it’s affecting deprived communities across the nation. After the film ends, AKA and 1 Woodlawn will lead a discussion about the film’s message.
The film presentation is the first collaboration between Theta Omega, whose foundation service center is based in Woodlawn, and 1 Woodlawn.
Theta Omega Chapter President Elaine Smith Singh said, “Woodlawn is poised to become a major lure for new businesses, a hub for vibrant opportunities and an ideal site to attract an influx of new residents. Singh noted that since Woodlawn has become an economic magnet, property values have gone up and crime has dropped.
She added, however, the rush of new residents can destabilize communities and can drive out longtime residents.
In 2016, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama selected Jackson Park at the location of the Obama Presidential Library. The library is scheduled to open in 2020 or 2021.
The library’s location has also sparked a $30 million privately funded redesign of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses. They will be combined into one world class golf course by Tiger Woods.
Singh said the forum is designed to educate the community and design a plan of action. 1 Woodlawn calls its plan Woodlawn Non-Displacement Strategy.
AKA is an international service organization with nearly 300,000 members who are college-educated women. It has chapters throughout the United States, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and elsewhere. The sorority was founded at Howard University in 1908. It is based in Chicago.