On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Rev. Rhonda Britton of Cornwallis Street Baptist Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, talks about the struggle to preserve the closed St. Patrick’s-Alexandra school building as a community space in the face of an indifferent, even hostile, city administration.
After the Halifax municipal government decided, against the wishes of residents, to raze the historic Black settlement of Africville in the 1960s, many moved to a then-new housing development in Halifax’s north end. The community’s school and church were also destroyed, so many began to attend Cornwallis Street and soon a new high school was built nearby, St.Pat’s-Alexandra. Fast-forward to the early 21st century, and the school had been closed and ownership had reverted to the city. Despite a recent municipal apology for its treatment of Africville residents in decades past, and despite a multi-year, city-driven initiative to address violence that had recommened more community spaces and programming, the city failed to follow its own policy that would have given priority consideration to community proposals to use the closed school building to do exactly that. Instead, council voted to sell the property to a for-profit developer. Pastor Britton talks about what the community did to fight back, and how they won the legal victory that has given them a new shot at redeveloping the building to meet community needs rather than purely in the service of an outside developer’s bottom line.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.
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Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.