Family reunions are all about seeing how folks have grown and celebrating unity. And food.
So what happens when neighborhood has a family reunion? I recently talked to Gloria Green, president of the Grier Heights Community Improvement Organization and learned about the Grier Heights 50th Reunion Celebration.
Their 50th Reunion Celebration is Sept. 7. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. at the corner of Orange Street and Fannie Circle.
Not familiar with Grier Heights?
– It’s located about seven minutes southeast of uptown Charlotte surrounded by Monroe, Wendover and Randolph roads.
– Originally called Grier Town, it was a suburb that was home to lower-income families as well as middle-class blacks, some of whom were masons, teachers or worked for the U.S. Postal Service.
– There has been an active neighborhood association in the area since the 1940s.
In my conversation with Gloria Green, I learned about the importance of community and the unexpected changes going on in Grier Heights.
What’s the 50th Reunion Celebration all about and why is it important?
The reunion gives people a chance to show their kids and grandkids where they grew up and just catch up with old friends and neighbors. We have a parade with floats, motorcycles, local politicians, great food and music. People don’t believe it until they see it.
This year what makes it so special is that The Billingsville Rosenwald School, built by some of the neighbors in 1927, has been going through a $650,00 renovation.The renovated building will be our new community center with a computer lab and community resources. We will be doing a ribbon cutting ceremony after the parade.
Being a Charlotte native, in what ways has Charlotte changed and your neighborhood changed?
The culture is changing but we’re embracing it. Economic development can come with its positives but sometimes it comes with division. Nearby developments like Elizabeth Heights may have caused division but the residents are getting involved and that’s exactly what we wanted.
Just last year, Grier Heights was presented with the Sustainability Pioneer award for efforts that included creating a Sustainable Vision Plan, creating a community garden and managing a Cash for Trash program. The city has changed but we’re changing right along with it.
What’s one thing you want Charlotte to know about Grier Heights?
Over the past year, the neighborhood’s crime rate had decreased significantly thanks to great police involvement. We are also getting ready to open the Learning Collaborative in our neighborhood, which will act as a free day care and education center. We are able to start them early in the school system and strengthen our neighborhood school, Billingsville Elementary.
What kind of city do you want Charlotte to be?
I just want it to be a beautiful. In our mission statement, we state that we want Grier Heights to be a beautiful, safe place to live.
Photos: Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer; Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer; Christine Edwards
Follow Christine Edwards on Twitter @yea_me2.