EOT 378- Wanda Gilbert-Coker on Shaw’s Potential Redevelopment

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Ennis Wells 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to WKNC's public affairs program Eye on the Triangle. Eye on the Triangle is your source for local news reviews and interviews. My name is Ennis wells and today we'll be discussing the potential rezoning of Shaw University and the opposition that has sprung up against it. Shaw University, located in downtown Raleigh, is the south oldest HBCU, historically black university. It's accredited for being home to the country's first building of higher education for African American woman and for being the birthplace of the SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which was a huge part of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Also, since we are on the radio, I wanted to note that Shaw University is also the first black college to have its own radio station. This area and these places of rich history are what many of those in opposition to the new rezoning proposal. Worry will be lost if the historical district continues to shrink.

I am joined today by the co founder of the Wake County Housing Justice Coalition, Wanda Gilbert Coker to discuss this further ahead of the Raleigh City Council vote on June 20. Hello, Wanda, how are you doing today?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 1:50
Hi, Ennis I am doing well. It's a beautiful day, and the rich capitalist city of Raleigh. But I'm grateful to be here to discuss the Shaw redevelopment plan and it's really rich is cultural history and why we are trying to save that history.

Ennis Wells 2:15
Glad to have you.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 2:16
Thank you.

Ennis Wells 2:17
Before we talk about Shaw, can you give our listeners a little background on you and your work?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 2:23
Sure, thank you. Well, first of all, I've been here in Raleigh, oh, over 30 years. And when I came here to Raleigh, I, of course, I lived here as a resident but because I come from a family that participate or served in a community, it was in my DNA to do the same here. So as soon as I got here, I began to serve in the community. And I have rich leaders in front of me that paved the way like Miss Marie. Miss Octavia and others that I saw doing the work in the community and going to meetings and listening to them about what was happening in our community. And I was like, Oh, wow, I have to stay involved, get involved. Just like I did, I saw my grandma and Auntie shouldn't them do. So by doing so I joined different organizations. And as I got older, I had to take some time away for the family. And as life progressed, I found myself homeless. I found myself sleeping in the car, I found myself sleeping in a car, not only that- with a teenager. And so I had me had a desperate need for housing. And as I moved back to Raleigh, I saw that Hold up, wait a minute, this is not the same type of housing that I was looking that was available before there was not any affordable or low income housing. If there was it was a long wait. And it really hit me hard. And while I was home homeless, I prayed that, Lord let this not be in vain. So that's how I got back into the housing justice work because what I found there was not a housing justice organization that helped people with finding justice. There were organizations that spoke about housing, but not about housing justice. So we formed along with a few other co founders like Wanda Hunter, Jasmine Chouse*, who has moved on to a bigger a bigger project. And other members from the community came along a few from other organizations and workforce, one of the first things we tackle was gentrification, and then from there was the housing bond. And so again, it was Wake County Housing Justice Coalition that came out of that. And from there, we realized that we needed to save NOAR save naturally occurring affordable housing because we saw the city tearing down their own housing, but yet they will have a cry for Middle Missing. And they also were had a list of low income housing that they were going to tear down and public housing. So from that fight, I realized that was a statewide and a national fight. The same day, we were working with folks in New York and other parts of the state, we started, I started working with NC block. And that is where I found the North Carolina housing justice for black and disenfranchised lives. And in both organizations, we focus primarily on helping those helping low income families preserving naturally occurring affordable housing, fighting for 30% and below eight 30% and below of the AMI. How housing DESA income 30%. And below for people like that work at McDonald's, the teacher's aide and folks like that housing for them rent for them at 30%. And below, and also public housing, people like to have a negative connotation on public housing, there's no negative connotation only for when the owners or the of the state or the city, whoever owns it does not take care of it. And so those are our missions, we have others, but part of that is well is to say black land, and also fine repair those issues that how black land was taken away from the community members. And that's how save our well that's how Shaw came about. Save our Shaw was not in existence. We were already in the fight around College Park, South Park. Dorthea Dix areas around Shaw already. Prince Hall Prince Hall was at the top of the list anyway, of what we were doing. And we wanted to keep those protections. And so when I saw the redevelopment request, which is the rezoning request is what you all refer to it. I got involved in the fight. So that is what I do. And that is how a little bit how we got involved with the Shaw redevelopment plan.

Ennis Wells 7:45
So this has been a lifelong fight for you.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 7:48
Yeah, yeah.

Ennis Wells 7:51
So you spoke a little bit about getting into the Shaw University fight. Can you fill us in a little more about Shaw University and this potential rezoning. And you mentioned price?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 8:05
Yeah. Well see, as I said before, we had a focus on the redevelopment or them wanting to remove the protections that exist on land around Prince Hall, which is new Shaw already as a organization, along with livable Raleigh and some of our other partners. In the work that we do. We were watching those things. And when we saw that, they wanted to remove the protections, the historic protections from the land on Shaw, that sent off a red light, because you can do redevelopment, you can still as an institution as an HBCU. There are many things they can still do to make it an awesome school and make it an awesome University to enhance the community to make it a great safe place, sustainable place for the students without removing the historic preservation. And it's there for a reason. But Shaw has a mindset of turning it into more a capitalistic, gentrified, opportunity for developers, primarily white developers, regardless if they want to lease the land, regardless if they want to sell the land. It will not benefit the community. It will not benefit the students that will not benefit those historical historical things that are already in place. And it's it was also be a disgrace to the ancestors who have put their blood sweat and tears to make show what it is.

Ennis Wells 10:09
I read some about the height is a part of it, they want to increase the number of stories you can have on buildings.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 10:18
Yeah, density. You know, um, I don't know, if you saw the story a while back in Florida where that building come came falling down. It was like 40 Plus stories, and it was just maddening. It was scary. And it was like, it still takes my breath away to think about it. And it really takes my breath away to think about students in in something like that. For density. I'm not against it to teach in certain areas, we're it, we're, we're safe. We're there's a fire company in a fire truck, that could get to the people fast enough and work if there is a problem, it will not take down and damage and put other community members in buildings and such in in harm's way. Putting a very high tone 30/40 Plus building in in a shallow smoke campus, not only will put people in danger, but also will destroy the land that is there, it will cause things to shift. I'm not an environmentalist, I am pro environmental. I believe in climate change. Most definitely. But some things are just common sense. If you put something too heavy on something is going to shift. And we all know that that live in southeast Raleigh and have experienced the rains and steps after this rally. We know that it floods there. It floods bad it was so bad. Sometimes you have to take detours. And those areas and the rain in the rain goes downward and towards shallow towards Martin Luther King towards personal street. So putting up. And so that means that soil is already in a situation and more easier to share. So putting up a large tall building, there would be would be a benefit who, again, like I said, I know who will not benefit. So who they're thinking about, again, it's the developers and that's where the city of Raleigh has been. Their mindset has been for so long, not about the people, but about these developers who often don't live here. Or if they do live here. It's about what's best for them, and not what's best for the tax payers were taxpayers as well. So density, can they say basically, density is dangerous in many areas, so we're not seeing him there. I'm talking about density D, D for density D for dangerous. So it's not always necessary. And for show for them to be looking at dorms, you need the students first and put them in the dorms. By my understanding there. They had a low rate of student enrollment. So um, the dorms they have now they can't feel so increasing density for whom and what you're planning on bringing strangers to staying in these rooms with these strangers stay in the buildings with the students, the students are going to stay with strangers and how does that work? How does that I dropped my young 17/18 year old child from a rural county off and not knowing that they're going to share a building a space with a stranger or fifty year old maybe we don't know could be a possible Jeffrey Dahmer not to disrespect anyone, but things happen in life. It could be a predator that no one has had the opportunity to visit. But instead of it being about the students again, it's not it's about money and money doesn't always keep people safe.

Ennis Wells 14:38
So what would you say the administration's reasons for this proposal are?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 14:44
I think this particular ministration this particular put this particular president and Trustee Board their goals are again they see the financial wealth opportunities for themselves. I remember one meeting. She's a past senator from the state of North Carolina. Yvonne Holley, she's a retired State Senator. She suggested that, you know, maybe the school could put a Jamaican restaurant on the campus, when a Jamaican restaurant is like three miles from the school? Why would we put another one? When there's one? Not There's one three miles, then there's another one about a half a mile from that. And they're, they're doing what they can as a Black Business to to, you know, stay ahead to stay out of the red. So why would we put one on campus when we don't know who if you know if he's gonna stay out of the red plus who would get to be employed there. Shaw has never ever said that any of these businesses that they're putting on campus such as the grocery store or Publix or San Francisco CVS. Now, mind you, they did mention a CVS or one or two meetings. But did they not just close the CVS downtown Raleigh, so CVS chose, you know, decided to close? Why would they want to reopen again, okay, some of these things just don't make sense that they're saying that's what we're gonna do. They said, so it's all about money. But it many of the people that are at the table making their decisions did not include the community. Now, they said they included stakeholders. And if you look at their words, if you look at their paperwork, when they say stakeholders, a stakeholder is defined as someone that basically they want at the table, like someone from downtown Raleigh Alliance, or a particular business owner, or baby, basically a yes, person. But it doesn't always include the community members. I know that I'm not I was not considered a stakeholder and I was not invited to those stakeholder meetings. So but highly invested in show. I have family members who graduated from Shaw, I have family members who worked at Shell, um, I've even volunteered at Shaw for in past years. So but, you know, it's a choice that they have decided who was worthy to be at their table. So I know those that that's what helped hurt them was to community engagement. And so just that this was hurting them to determine what's best for Shaw University.

Ennis Wells 18:06
And who else is a part of this opposition? Who do you usually see when you are at city council or elsewhere?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 18:14
Well, when I saw that, they were going to start the redevelopment and let me just explain redevelopment for a second here. I know I hear a lot of people say it's a rezoning. Yes, this rezoning. But it's also also a redevelopment plan with a read redevelopment plan. This also means that Shaw or anyone who follows a redevelopment plan with the planning department, they're eligible to apply for funding from the community development grants, and other grants from the city from the state federal government grants. And these grants, they don't have to pay back. And these grants can go into the millions, I mean, they can as low as 20,000, and they can be as much as 20 million. And these grants of course, are our tax dollars. And so those that's part of the issue of them not wanting people like myself or other voters or other people from the community at the table to decide shall refuses to produce a master plan. Now we have seen a company architect company, or other drawings by others that do this work other planning. organizations produce specs that look like it should be part of a master plan. I've been doing this long enough. I'm not a planner, I'm not on the planning commission, I will say I'm lay planner. Um, but um, we can see that those things are usually part of the master plan, the specs that we're looking at, but they refuse to give the community, the same community that they're going to warn all these tax dollars from a master plan to let us know what they want to do with this redevelopment plan. So when I saw that they were scheduling this eye contact that save shell friends or shell, that's what they were called friends or show, which was Kesha Monk. But then later, I met her husband, Eugene Murray. And of course liveable Raleigh, was there. Also a founding member of livable Raleigh. Our contacted them as well, I put it on Facebook. And I was like, Wakey, wakey up, wake up Shaw bears. I didn't know exactly who was going to answer. But this, like I said, I met Kesha. And from there, we had a conversation that I said, Hey, you know, they're putting this on the on the schedule, the planning commission, I met planning department to go to the planning commission for the planning commission to vote. Also, there are going to our community engagement meetings, you all need to pay attention. I know I am, because show had been solid for a long time around issues that have been going on right there around them, such as Prince Hall South Park, many of the issues, the flooding that was going on right there. Oh, you know, I'm in their own home near the campus. So we had not heard from friends shop for a very long time. So I reached out to and from their deaths were saved by Shaw Kesha and them created, Save our Shaw. And other community members.

Ennis Wells 22:18
I also read that some of the Muslim community in Raleigh is intertwined with all of this.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 22:23
Yeah. And so from there, that is exactly what I was going to say, from that from the redevelopment. I'm looking at the specs, we saw Wait a minute. To me, they're gonna bulldoze down that building over there in the corner, and they're gonna bulldoze down at building what's going to happen to though is just a mosque in there. And from there, that is where we started reaching out to the Muslim community, I was already involved with the Muslim community with the Western BRT situation, where they're planning to tear down Muslim, and immigrant businesses, for the Western BRT. So I already had a connection, and have worked with them on that. I'm planning issue. So I reached out to the same one, which one was Zainab Baloch. And, um, and from there, we reached out, we found out about care, see CAIR, and their lawyer on Nigel Edwards. And from there, they got on it. And we started having conversations in the Muslim community, now we're working with a greater group, larger group, and being in communications with them about the rights and how the civil rights and human rights have also been violated. And so we're also trying to find a lawyer that can help them because it goes beyond just them not having somewhere to pray. It is it's about dealing with their rights and being seen as people and those things not taken away. Again, as I mentioned before, you know, some of the same things that are happening in Florida are happening right in Raleigh. So, um, we are definitely in this fight. Regardless of what happens next Tuesday. We have been in this fight to with the immigrant community, Muslim community, fight for our rights, fight for democracy, fight for liberation, and fight for free speech. And, yeah, so they're most definitely with their friends of ours and family of ours. When we were fighting for another community, another population, we're truly fighting for ourselves.

Ennis Wells 24:56
Okay. And before we talk some more about some City Council I wanted to ask, as someone who's still very new to Raleigh and a student. What can you say about the larger gentrification happening across Raleigh? Are they're developing areas or trends you're noticing?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 25:14
Oh, yeah, definitely, definitely. While see, years ago, years and years ago, I created this hashtag and didn't have the funding to create a nonprofit or group or whatever. And this was before Wake County Housing Justice Coalition. But you know, I had kinda trending a little bit was Save Our Black Community. And well because that is when I saw the city Raleigh, the housing department, which was led then by Larry Jarvis. And I heard Miss Octavia Rainey talk about how he was moving the census tracts to create a certain demographic, to get federal funding to start building these houses, in our own community. I'm in their community, but our community, but specifically College Park, and we saw College Park, we saw it while South Park and we will go to the meetings in here to see to say, Oh, we're going to revitalize, revitalize, and we got excited over by Trent for a whole company, they said they were gonna revitalize it and, you know, bring him black businesses, you know, the ones that they had defunded those black businesses, they were gonna, you know, bring them back and give them opportunities. And, you know, this was back in 2015 16 or so. Um, and so we were started going to the meetings, and as we, the meetings dwindled down, and they started putting these things in place, we realized that those things were not true. And eventually, it what we saw revitalization actually was gentrification, the programs they offer it, it made it hard for the black community, or even immigrant community and disenfranchised, disenfranchised folks to be able to apply for those programs to afford those programs. And gentrification just went, went to start it to go escalate like, like, it was a madness. And that's when we saw the story on the ownership of the New York Times. And then the then mayor, then, Mcfarlane, it was like, you know, it was shocking to others like, no, it shouldn't be shocking that just $500,000 or half a million dollar home in a place where $120,000 home was that was a black family. And then we started asking, Where did these black families go? And still to this day, we don't know the city has not given us proper information. We have asked the city manager, the past city manager, the current city manager for this information, because by law, according to HUD, they supposed to keep up with moving deeds families out or giving them funding to move out if they can no longer go forward to be there, or they're being moved out because of the city's coming in to gentrify so gentrification. Some people, you know, saying that, Oh, well, you know, it's good for the community, which community? That is what we asked. And when we say Raleigh is providing affordable housing, affordable for who? And the current mayor we have, she says, you know, she has this thing about housing choice. Well, the city is currently in a housing crisis. There are housing encampments near me where people sleep outside on the ground. People were sleeping downtown on the sidewalk on park benches. If they get caught, they go to jail, they receive a citation, a ticket, I think that would be another great story. But at another time, but we're at a major crisis. We're on the network, the net Charlotte, the overflow with tents to downtown, and that's not a choice. How can we have housing choice? No one chooses to be homeless. No one chooses to sleep in a tent. And so we don't have housing choice, what we have is housing privilege here in the city of Raleigh. So there's gentrification and housing privilege, and then in the world, and that those things happen because we lack equity and economic mobility in the black community in the Latinas community in the immigrant community, and the disenfranchised and marginalized populations, we see, there was a story that the NFL just recently put out about the LGBTQ community, especially the trans community is having issues major issues, finding homes, slowly saying finding homes and safe places. So therefore, habitat, humanity now is stepping in part of these. I would say, a major issue, why things are not done on time? Why why people, it takes so long for things to get going. And meanwhile, people being harmed, and put in harm's way is because many of these private organizations to see the county refuses, refuses to listen to their taxpayers, which essentially were their boss, you know, refuses to listen to us, the people who provide the funding to them. They don't listen to us. So it's intentional. A lot of people might think that it's not or it can't be avoided. I'm the gentrification that has happened in southeast Raleigh, there's a 10 year plan, you can go back downtown Raleigh Alliance was part of the plan. And the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, there are businesses, small businesses that don't realize some of these small business owners may have been gentrified themselves, or they may have been moved, pushed out forced out to another area, some of these small business owners may have been affected, they may be even members of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. But they don't realize that the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce plays a very large role in the gentrification, and in the indeed disparities of the black in Latina, and the communities that are being disenfranchised and marginalized. So, again, I think people some people know and some people just don't want to know what's going on. But all of it is definitely intentional. They have meetings, there's black and white paperwork to prove it documentation. Sometimes we have to ask for for you to get this information. And many times to see the denials to information or it takes a whole year when the rezoning or redevelopment or whatever we're fighting is over. That's where we might get the documentation from downtown Raleigh along and so whomever we're asking, because they know that, you know, it's intentional, we've had previous city officials tell us that were part of the meetings, they had to go because they were city officials, not because they approve of dismiss. And so they told us about these things. There were people that were on these boards, who told us about these conversations and plans, so we know that it's intentional. And um, we just would like the younger generation to be aware, I think you're starting to see it. People are near NC State isn't any so called, quote, unquote, affordable housing or how do you say, quote, affordable unquote, affordable housing. And on your NC State like it used to be when I first came to Raleigh, there was a place you could go and get a room for $35 a week at near NC State. Even all the schools show new keys near mirrors if Smith will get method or magic, it's not there anymore, but what message is there but mares if you're over the mercy of college or university, I apologize. Um, you could do that they're not now. Um, and so Are the students.

Please be more were an understanding that downtown Alliance still reaches into his own Hillsborough Street. There's an alliance there. There's Alliance on Linwood, there's shallow is trying to become part of that alliance and fat. Dr. Diller is the vice chair of the downtown Raleigh Alliance. So you see how all of this is starting to play a role. They want to be known as the show district, just like there's the Glenwood district, there's the Hillsborough district, there's all these different DCS. I think that's what you call it municipal districts. And with those teachers, there's funding that those districts keep. So again, it's about money, but yet it causes disparities, too, to the disenfranchised, the marginalized. And that includes college students as well.

Ennis Wells 36:03
Yeah, I just got a new place I'm renting and even talking with the last tenants, you can kind of see how the rent where the rent is moving towards. So we talked about city council a little bit, I wanted to ask, I noticed the date on this vote has been moved back a few times. Yes.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 36:23
Yes. Now, those dates moving back a few times, I definitely as the organizer who's been in this work for over 15 years as the organizer. That was the that's the title. before. I didn't even know we had titles while I was doing the work. But as a organizer, I consider those things as wins the previous city council that we had before, that would have never happened, I would say the previous three for maybe all the city councils because I've been following the city councils for a very long time and go into those meetings. And I don't see the this the way this has been pushed back and and the way that these new for city councilors, which are Mary Black, Christina Jones, Jane Harrison, and Megan Patton, have been very, very interested in what the community the voters have to say, not just the developers, but the community. And that's why I feel it has been pushed back because the community is often denied the opportunity in many of these spaces when it comes to development. And also the Muslims really stood up for themselves and turned out at these meetings and will and wanted to have a voice now. Their voices were denied at city council. Because they're it you only have eight minutes per side to talk about your case. To say a yes, you're referring to rezoning or no for your for the rezoning. Now that's usually okay. Maybe when it's a small rezoning case that's going to impact a small community, small neighborhood or just a few houses as such, but this is going to impact various communities. And they wonder North Carolina's where north is actually North Carolina's oldest HBCU the state of North Carolina oldest HBCU, which is shower University. It was it's going it's going to impact the Muslim community is going to impact Prince home, which is a very in South Park, which are older black communities in southeast Raleigh, it's going to impact southeast Raleigh, it's going to impact impact. The New Bern, New Bern BRT, it will impact the Western BRT, which are federal programs state program, so as far as funding, it will impact so many other businesses downtown. Um, and so they weren't expecting to go in there and just meet in eight minutes we give us why we're against it in eight minutes. And they say they're okay with it in eight minutes. And in the past that has worked for them. Even something as big as downtown south. Um, In all other cases, we've had a few other cases as large. But they did give downtown staff their own special meeting that it robbed John Kane. We wanted the same thing for this, where everyone would have an opportunity to speak. We were denied that. So people still came. It made historical history. For the first time in the city of Raleigh. There were people on the third floor, there were people outside, there were people on the second floor in the what they call the waiting area. And there were people also inside the auditorium area. It was also during Ramadan. We wait County Housing Justice Coalition had already gone through holding the city accountable, um, with housing, rezoning a redevelopment request meetings during Ramadan that would impact the Muslim community. We last year that same time when there was the original meeting, they tried to do the same thing with the Western BRT. hold a meeting, a planning meeting on rezoning case, should I say rezoning case during Ramadan? Over near the western BRT? Well, we all know, one of the largest mosque is near the western VRD. So why would you do it during Ramadan, um, so they did move the date, they did change the date to until after Ramadan for that VRT Western BRT planning, rezoning hearing. And actually, what you said to say, the planning department does have someone who is Muslim in their department, so they know where Ramadan is. They just don't care where so we came back again, this year, was so more on with the case. And we asked him to push it back. We wait County Housing Justice Coalition and other organizations asked for them to the city to re schedule the planning, hearing around show until after the after Ramadan. But we had to have a plan B as well, because we can't trust them. And while they were they were deciding we was we also had a Muslim friends, asking people to show up asking people to show up at the planning hearing around the show redevelopment. And meanwhile, we're sending out messages, please, to the city council and to the planning department. Please reschedule it. They refuse to reschedule it. They had it anyway. And again, we made history. And people showed up it was packed. They had the overflow room was packed. And then they had the third floor. And they also served the meal after prayer. They took time for prayer. The city council had a break. And during the break, they went to pray and they ate and then came back and again that was historical. It should not have had been have to have happened like that. It should have been something that family should have been able to enjoy and and sit sitting in it you're in their own homes with their families or in their own personal space, not at a governmental building that bounds and make decisions to hold people back. But when again, we made history.

Ennis Wells 44:37
I read on CBS 17 That it was 140 people.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 44:43
Yes, you're right. 140 people showed up to sign up to speed. But over 300 people showed up now 140 people signed up to speak over 300 people showed up and that's why they had to have the Oval Office. Room, and then the third floor as well, to accommodate the prayer people for people to pray and for people to eat as well. And it was amazing. Now, to prevent that from happening again, they have rescheduled this June 20. Meeting for during the daytime. At one o'clock the city council meeting, while people are working, instead of 7pm, we see this happen often during a big case such as this, there have been other cases that have that have have been controversial. We've seen the cases get debt which should be in the evening where more people can come out, get push get rescheduled, somehow the city manager and her department rescheduled at the urging of particular city councilors during the daytime and or at the mayor's request during the daytime. And we all we all know and they all know that the number of people that come out during the day is nothing like at night. So they do not want the same amount of people to come out they do not want the same attendance, they do not want the same controversy, they do not want to be seen as bigots, they do not want to be seen as racist. So, um, man be held accountable by the Muslim community. So on June 20, that is when as many people that can come. You know, that's what will happen. Meanwhile, there are other actions and other things that are going on to, um, to make people aware exactly how this will impact not just the Muslim community black community, well, we will not white allies, we want the white people. And we want other races to know how this is impacting them. Because eventually what has happened, Hayes Barton recently, which has been a controversial case, what has happened, we have seen the city now go after our white allies and other and white, white communities, white neighborhoods. And so that is why we definitely want just more than the impact that folks around the show redevelopment such as the Muslims. In the black community, we need the Latinas community involved because they have already gone after the black tennis community where they live there, their housing developments or neighborhoods, which were near downtown south have already been torn down. It was a large rental neighborhood that they live near Sam's Club has been torn down, or rent was affordable. And then they put up housing that starts at $400,000. Which they can't afford. We're not sure where those people are. Again, that is something that the CD is supposed to keep up with. But we now we want the white community and Latinas communities and others to get involved with all these cases. Because, you know, there's some famous quote, by I don't know if it's biblical or famous person that said that, you know, once they finish with us meaning show or whatever group that you're working with, once they finish with us, they're going to come for you. And that's exactly what they have done. They have already destroyed various sectors and Raleigh of the Latinas community neighborhoods where they had real to where they had housing that they could afford off the south side of the street. I was South Wilmington Street and off a peach road and built housing that that start at $400,000. We Wake County Housing Justice Coalition, tried to get involved with that the best we could but one of our other partners that had folks that could speak Spanish better than us and had more people that could reach out on the ground. Got involved, but we did have a few cases on that as well. Um, and now one of our ally organizations in Omaha So a member of like a shed a really livable Raleigh, but no, the city also, they targeted Hayes Barton, Hayes Bart is a fairly wealthy community, we're probably one of the wealthiest in Raleigh. However, that did not stop the developers and the city from targeting them. Because even though Hayes Barton is wealthy, how wealthy white folks out there, they're not wealthy or dandies, developers, these millionaire developers like John Kane and others. So they may seem wealthy to some, but to these developers, they still mean nothing, their families mean nothing their lives to Me. That's it. So we got involved with county housing Justice Coalition, we most definitely got involved with Hayes Barton, to help save that community. And that was also during the elections. And they most definitely got involved with us. And they support it the same for new city councilors that in there, because it's not all like I said, it's not always about money, money can't save everything, your money doesn't protect you from everything, money will not keep your building a large building from falling down. And money will not keep the city from turning down your building, either. So what it's really about is community and standing together and protecting those things that we find valuable, and we find important. Everyone needs shelter. Housing is a human right. And that shouldn't be your choice. But it's not. It's a privilege here, Raleigh, to have housing. So we stood with Hayes Barton, we would like Hayes Barton to stand with us in everything. And so far they have, and we're grateful for organizations like them. And so the city is starting to see now they are going after Grosvenor off of Hillsborough, new Hillsborough. And it's not a city. It's a nonprofit organization. CASA, who if you look at their mission statement, their said there about affordable housing and saving affordable housing. But we've had several people reach out to us to want to help them organize, which we did, we gave them pointers. But for us, we want people to do it, we want to stand behind the people, not like you know in front, and that they have rights. And we are all about tenant rights. The rent went up three times and eventually went up to $1,400. And many of them on fixed incomes. And that will not pay the rent was that fixed income at all. And as I said, the nonprofit costs got that now owns that property. But Casa also, again, received tax money, grant money from the City of Raleigh, one of those community development funds. So just because you get community development funds or any other type of grants from the city, state, federal grants, that does not prevent them from gentrifying, that does not prevent them from putting pushing, forcing you out of your home. That does not prevent the rent from being very expensive. They may say affordable, but it's not affordable. It may be affordable to them, but it's not affordable to us.

Ennis Wells 53:50
Yes, I believe that quote you mentioned was the poem from Nazi Germany when they were like, like, at first I didn't speak out because it wasn't impacting me. But then of course, it is eventually going to impact all of us.

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 54:07
Yes, exactly. Exactly. In that then so with the City of Raleigh. Oh, there like to say this, there are people who work for the City of Raleigh, who cannot afford to live in the city of Raleigh, which makes no sense. There are people who have lost their housing, who works for the City of Raleigh, but because they work for the City of Raleigh, they can't come out and say these things because of you know who they worked for. But I know because we have helped them. That that debt, you know, just testis deaths, a disgrace. Some just recently got a raise. city workers just recently got a raise to be able to afford to stay somewhere else. Do not necessarily see the rollin we're talking like now I will warn operators, communications and people at the lore spectrum workers more so than a managers you know those who make over 100,006 figures and it's still hard to stay here if you have a family making six figures so the city's not even concerned about their own people who live here if they can afford to stay here by choosing to let the gentrification sprawl, yeah, they can choose to build more low income housing. They can choose to build public housing, because they used to the city used to build public housing Chavis heights, walnut terrace and search the Raleigh housing authority as well. And they used to build 30% and below housing. So if they really wanted to fix the problem, there are lots of solutions that they can choose and where people can truly have a housing choice. But those options don't make money. Those options, maybe will not. You will not become a millionaire, or maybe be seen or featured in one of those magazines and make your high profile member the capital club or something. But there are ways to help people at or where they can afford to stay there.

Ennis Wells 56:50
Yeah. How many votes do you you or Shaw need for the proposal to pass?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 56:58
Shaw needs four people to stop it? We don't want it to pass. We want the redevelopment to end what we have been asking for from Dr. Diller is the master plan. Again, if they had presented a master plan to us that would benefit the DEA community. Oh my gosh, I would I would be also happy. As you mentioned before, Shaw is home of SNCC, Shaw is home of so many freedom programs freedom writing opportunities, liberation opportunities for students for the community. From Ella Baker. Who, I adore Ella Baker work and Fannie Lou Hamer. Those are the two I follow. And I look at their work as black women in the struggles they went to the things they created. Ella Baker came out of show, Ella Baker gave him the blueprint on how to survive and how to still be here and still showing Raleigh how to how to take care of humankind. And and from Ella Baker word Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Used Ella Baker's work. And so did Mr. Randolph, many, many, many other famous people adored Ella Baker, and used her work and her thoughts and her ideals to transform their communities. And Shaw still can shall still has some amazing professors still on staff. Which I know of some of them, but they haven't, instead of giving making sure they have the opportunity and the funding to to create a new ecosystem for shot a new ecosystem for the black community. That's not what's happening. They're being suppressed or oppressed and solid. So that this, this this ideal of a new show that doesn't represent HBCU or what Ella Baker and SNCC the pathway, the pathway that they built for show it doesn't represent any of that. So what we need is a vote for for to lock it to deadlock it down that Corey Branch, who has been calling people, his, his followers call them to send in letters to say, hey, yeah, we want to show develop, we want the Shaw we want it when they've been solid this whole time and all of a sudden this past three weeks they can write a letter when we have not heard from them before. Um, and so and then I'm not sure I don't think Stormey Forte will say yes. And Jonathan Melton either they're too vested, they're too vested, Jonathan Melton lives in the black community. He gentrified the black community. So he's vested in a way where he relied on a lot of them for votes to barely win this time. And so did Mary Ann Baldwin. So they need these black churches and others who they have, who feel like if Shaw is redeveloped, they will be able to prosper, but they're going to prosper what peonies and, and pinnings don't get you into heaven. Meanwhile, the developers will be prospering with millions. But in many of the these black churches and, and in these black status quos, that they reached out to feel like they're going to benefit, not the community, but them, you know, their selfish selves will benefit with pennies, which is, you know, a lot for them. So, those four we do not see, they have always been behind this Shaw redevelopment. And so these new four who hold are not attached to the black status quo, and the fact that Black Status Quo did not vote them in did not care for them at all. Um, but the younger generations and the people who, who care about their homes and keeping their homes and generational wealth in black on black land and pro pro blackness and pro LGBT and, you know, those type of wonderful people brought pro immigrant to pro Muslim, all the great probes out there. Those are the people who voted these new for city council people in and if those four vote no, please tell Dr. Dillard and their lawyers to go back look at this and bring us back the master plan. And like so many years, since they don't have it, they claim they can't afford it. But we know that they have it either way, um, bring it back. And this time, have a real true community engagement that's read by the community. Not this did stakeholders such as it senator, Yvonne Holley, or x or a consultant company that's associated with Howard was leading the consult bleeding the community engagement. We want to be involved in community engagement with people we know. We have people here in Raleigh, who can facilitate moderate engage those community engagements, and we trust those people, those people shall bought into lead those things we don't trust. So um, and a lot of times those community engagements, meetings did not get out to the broad, the broad population of Raleigh, so we want them to vote no, bring back the master plan. And just like NC State did, I did some research and NC State on the on the campus this over off of a fairy, that campus I can't think of the name of it right now. So beautiful, wonderful campus. What is that?

Ennis Wells 1:04:39
Centennial Campus?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 1:04:41
Centennial? Yes. Before Centennial broke ground. Day presented the master plan to the community. I saw the master plan online. I saw the community engagement process that they were It's a room, I saw where they put the signs out in the community about the community meetings that were coming up. It was for students, it was for the Muslim and immigrant business owners in the area was for the black business ownership was for the families that owned the daycares in the area, it was for all, and it was extensive. And then afterwards, there was no step were left on line of what they discussed. Because I didn't find any videos, but the notes were sufficient on what they discuss. That is what we're asking them show them in a great example out there of what NC State did, because they're always comparing themselves to NC State or wanting to be like NC State, which doesn't really make any sense because NC State it's not HBCU. And many of the businesses that are vested or surrounded by NC State are not on NC State Property, their own private property not like on the campus some are but many aren't. That's a great example. What shouldn't centennial did their master plan. And that's exactly what we want. We want to be involved to say, hey, instead of bringing in a Publix, why not bring in a grocery store, like a fertile ground, a co op grocery store, where the community owns the grocery store, the students get to work at the grocery store. And it's all healthy food, the community benefits, it's at a salary, that words students can afford to pay rent. And on top of that didn't put um, put housing Co Op housing on top of those on top of fertile ground. And then borders the opportunity for Co Op businesses, by the students. Those are the things we're asking for. Now more ever, have we ever been able to be at a table with show within? And talk about those things? And say, yes, these are the things we're going to put in the master plan. Right now. They want to use the master plan as a hide and go seek. And that's not fair to us, because we are the taxpayers, and they are going to ask for funding from us. So they're going to ask for funding from us. If we're just like the bank, you have to show the bank what you're gonna do. So you shouldn't have to show us what you're gonna do.

Ennis Wells 1:07:48
All right. Thank you so much for joining me today, Wanda, and

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 1:07:54
Oh, you're welcome

Ennis Wells 1:07:54
I will see you at the June 20th. Council meeting, which is at 1pm? And is there anything else you'd like to add or promote to our listeners?

Wanda Gilbert-Coker 1:08:08
Sure, well, we're gonna manifest just into existence, because this is something our community needs. Not only does our community need this meet when the city needs this weekend in the state of North Carolina needs this win. Because what we want people to realize is that, you know, there are things they may look at TV or hear about things that are happening in Florida. And it looks like the end of their entire Democratic, and it suppresses free speech. And it's anti immigrant and anti black and anti woke and all those things you hear about Florida, Texas, and it's like, oh my gosh, I would never want to live there. You hear about people moving from those areas, because it's becoming so oppressive, more oppressive than then disenfranchised and marginalized communities can stand, what I want people to understand and realize that many of those things, not only are their time in state government here in the state of North Carolina at the legislature, but it is already already happening at your local city municipal. Government and with his city council. We're grateful to have renewed city council before new members. We tried to, you know, change the whole landscape with a new mayor and all of that, but we weren't able to. But before that there was another city council, which was so they suppressed our voices. And the current mayor is still trying to suppress us. I'm not giving us the opportunity to speak are limited the time we speak or what we can speak on what I'll get people to be aware, when you look at TV and said, Oh my God, look at Florida. Oh my goodness, look at Texas. Oh, look at what North Carolina, the North Carolina on legislation is doing. Please note that it is happening in the city of Raleigh at your local municipal. When you pay taxes for local meals in Raleigh and local hotels, those taxes are being used to help pay for other things in stead of helping people get low income housing, helping people get public housing, helping people to have housing, that need housing the most. That's where your cat should be going. But because our voices are being suppressed, and because we need more power, we need people to be aware of what's going on as City Council. It's not happening. So what I would like from this hearing all this he of course, you all always reach out to us as well wait County Housing Justice Coalition, North Carolina housing justice for black and disenfranchised lives. But also pay attention to the votes pay attention to what your mayor is saying. Pay attention to what's not being said Pay attention to how the city manager and department what the doing was to budget where the money is actually going your cash money please be aware and please don't feel like please just just please know that was happening in Florida I'm gonna say it again because I don't think people were putting realizes the same you know, synonymous was happening there though oppression suppression in Florida with it governor, and in Texas with that Governor, um, even though our governor may not be doing it, you know, things that happened in the legislation lead at the legislative building, but those those oppressions and suppressions, or, or being held up by certain city council members we have, and it's definitely been held up by our current mayor, Mary Ann Baldwin. And we want you to be aware of that. And if you don't like it, come help. Come, you know, come and see, come to a city council meeting. And if you can't come guess what is a you can go on YouTube, and see it from your home while you're cooking, or while you're taking care of your kids. But please pay attention of exactly what's going on with your tax money. So thank you. And I look forward to this again. This has been great.

Ennis Wells 1:12:57
Thank you. Thank you very much.

And thank you all for listening to this episode of Eye on the Triangle WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1 Raleigh public affairs program. You just heard our interview with Wanda Gilbert Coker, a local community activist from the Wake County Housing Justice Coalition. You can listen back to this episode on wknc.org/podcasts. And the full redevelopment plan for Shaw University will be linked in the podcast description. Additionally, for those in Raleigh and interested in learning more about your own rights as tenants, the triangle tenant union we'll be having a Know Your Rights workshop session on Sunday, June 25. At 2pm Right here at NC State in the Talley Student Union room 3222. Music for this episode is titled Noahs Stark and was made available by the artist Krakatoa through a Creative Commons license. Check wknc.org/schedule to catch the next episode of Eye on the Triangle live. I'll see you next time.

Creators and Guests

Ennis Wells
Ennis Wells
Public Affairs Director (summer 2023)
EOT 378- Wanda Gilbert-Coker on Shaw’s Potential Redevelopment
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