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City Walks opens West End to celebration of history
Tour encourages Charlotte neighborhoods
Published Sunday, April 28, 2019 8:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

City Walks connects people with often-overlooked Charlotte neighborhoods through pedestrian and cycling tours. "RCLM Space for the Future" is an exhibit attached to the walk through Historic West End through May 26.

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Afrofuturism meets City Walks.

“RCLM Space for the Future” is one of over 30 free walks scheduled for the eighth annual City Walks, a project organized by UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. The walks begin on April 28, and run through May 26. Charlotte has participated in the worldwide initiative since 2012. They were initially called Jane Jacobs Walks in honor of the 20th century city planner. The goal is to connect people with not only overlooked portions of the city they live in, but one another.
For many Charlotteans, if you do not live on the westside, you may not have a reason to go there. Yet Charlotte’s history along the Beatties Ford Road corridor reflects that of the city as a whole.

“RCLM 37” opened at the Duke Library at Johnson C. Smith University earlier this month as the final phase of a project documenting the history of the area. “RCLM Space for the Future” takes place on May 18 from 12- 2 p.m. “RCLM 37” creative director Janelle Dunlap will lead attendees through the exhibit, followed by a walking tour of Smith’s campus led by Levine Museum of the New South staff historian Willie Griffin, the project’s historical consultant. The tour culminates with the “Manifest Future” mural just down from JCSU at Five Points.

“I’m still riding this wave of inspiration that I got from Judge Shirley Fulton about reclaiming space,” Dunlap said. “The art needed to be action-based, but it also needed to be a call to action.”

Sixty people per day move to Mecklenburg County. JCSU Director of Library Services and Curation and RCLM 37 project director Monika Rhue noted that newcomers more than likely are not acquainted with the corridor’s history.

“We know this community is changing very quickly,” Rhue said. “One of the important things is as things change, especially as new people come in, they really don’t understand the legacy and the new community in which they are actually entering. It’s very important for Johnson C. Smith University and myself to make sure that we capture the history. We wanted to capture the history through the lens of the people who live in the community.”

Experiences of this nature can impact residents of a neighborhood as much as those visiting for the tour.

“When you start to realize that there were some really important people who walked the same blocks, the same streets, the same neighborhoods, the same places that you are navigating every day, history changes for you,” said Griffin, a former West Charlotte High School history teacher. “You begin to realize that you are capable of so much more because of the things they have done, but when you think about gentrification and urban renewal, one of the things I really wanted to stress to them was that African Americans played a central role in building the Beatties Ford Road corridor.”

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This is great exposure for a wonderful area
Posted on April 29, 2019

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