Fence cutting cuts barriers

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The fence that had long separated the 10th and Page and Venable neighborhoods was symbolically and practically cut open on Monday, August 28 in a ceremony at the new Hope Community Center on 11th Street NW.

The fence, which symbolized the city’s history of strained race relations, had forced school children from the largely African-American 10th and Page neighborhood to walk the six blocks around or scale the fence to get to Venable Elementary School’s playing fields. Meanwhile, no such barrier existed for children entering from the more affluent, largely white Venable neighborhood side of the school.

It’s important to remember that Charlottesville chose to close Venable rather than integrate after the Supreme Court's 1954 historic decision in Brown v. Board of Education. And when a U.S. District court judged ruled in 1956 that Venable had to integrate, the city appealed the decision. It wasn’t until 1959, five years after Brown, that Charlottesville began to integrate its public schools by allowing three African American boys to enter Lane High School.

While the Hope Community Center should be commended for opening the fence, some might wonder why it took so long.

The Community Center, which is scheduled to open in about six weeks, will have a computer lab, offer drug and financial counseling, tutoring, special classes, and serve as a general meeting place for the community. There will also be room for a police substation.

1 comment

The Hook wrote: While the Hope Community Center should be commended for opening the fence, some might wonder why it took so long.

We can thank gentrification and the high cost of city real estate for making the fence less needed. That is probably more of the reason for opening the fence rather than the improvement of race relations as those sponsoring the symbolic gesture would have one believe.