New reparations focus: Black enclaves lost to development

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City officials in Providence weighing reparations for Black residents are looking beyond the Rhode Island capital’s leading role in slavery

Terrell Osborne, of Providence, R.I., stands for a portrait, Monday, April 11, 2022, in front of an antique shop, that was a general store in the early 1960s, in what was then known as the Lippitt Hill neighborhood, in Providence.

Hundreds of Black families and dozens of minority small businesses across some 30 acres were bulldozed. In their place rose an apartment complex catering to downtown workers and students and faculty at nearby Brown University, as well as a shopping plaza now anchored by a Whole Foods and a Starbucks.“We had stores. People owned things. Money was circulating around,” said Osborne, who now lives on Providence’s South Side.

They’re looking to atone, at least initially, for what happened during urban renewal efforts of the late 20th century, a period that saw Black and Native American communities such as Lippitt Hill razed to make way for new residential and business developments that paved the way for the city's modern economy, anchored around its universities and hospitals.

 

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