Despite the recommendation of a group of experts to save 10 buildings of historic Poindexter Village, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) has decided to leave no physical evidence of the housing authority that nurtured many great African American contributors to the development of Columbus. Voting unilaterally to tear down all 35 buildings, CMHA has reneged on what community activists believe was a promise to save at least a small portion of buildings that preservationists say are eligible for a place in the National Register of Historic Places.
“We see this as a lack of integrity and lack of good faith in CHMA’s own process. It disrespects the former residents, historic preservationists, and the black community as a whole,” said Reita Smith, a member of the Poindexter Village History Advisory Group (PVHAG) and the Coalition for the Responsible and Sustainable Development on the Near East Side. Smith is also a member of First Families of Ohio, having documented her family history back to the 1700s. Smith questions whether it was ever CMHA’s intent to honor the wishes of the community.
“CMHA’s decision is a slap in the face to the black community. We participated in the government process in good faith and were disrespected. Now we will put our faith in a spiritual process like our ancestors did,” said Baba Shongo, PVHAG member, former Poindexter resident, and current resident of the African Village, an area encompassing the Near East Side.
PVHAG is asking the community to join in an interdenominational Drum Circle at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 5 at the Poindexter Village Administration Building, 240 N. Champion Avenue. Drum circles have a long history and are represented in most cultures.
“We are hoping to change the hearts of those who want to destroy our history,” said Shongo. Participants are asked to bring drums and wear white clothing.
“Drum Circles are equitable because there is no first or last, all ages and abilities can participate, and each participant has a voice,” said Julialynne Walker of Africa and Diaspora Development Linkages, an organization currently sponsoring educational tours of the Bronzeville Near East Side community.
Some community members view the drum circle for Poindexter Village as a fitting tribute to Aminah Robinson, Dr. Earl Sherard, Ann B. Walker, Steve Grier, and other African Americans who have made positive contributions to Columbus.
For more information, please contact Chief Baba Shongo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 252-7525.