My STEP project was a photography project and the foundation to the start of my developing documentary “Back of the (C)Bus”. The photo’s that I took captured the historical landmarks and houses within historical African American communities in Columbus, Ohio. I wanted to capture how the demographics and landscape of these area’s changed by showing current conditions, and depicting other issues that minorities in Columbus, Ohio have to face or be silent about. But I also wanted to capture the efforts that are being made to create solutions to these problems and how the issue of gentrification in Columbus is being solved.
I can for sure say that I found more value to my native city and community and also appreciated Columbus and the history/efforts that different community leaders and African American individuals have made/sacrificed. I was able to learn more about the pointdexter community here in Columbus and the King-Lincoln district that I grew up in. I never was taught growing up that I lived within a community that was once a thriving and grounded community that birthed many painters, musicians, physicians, and different artists. It felt nice to associate myself with such a historical community here in Columbus.
I was able to connect with different community members within the King-Lincoln district, the hilltop, and different parts of the downtown area. I was able to really grasp the shift in demographics over the years by talking to residents that were either long term residents or short term residents that resided in the area within the past 10 years. I think it was interesting to learn how the areas even changed within a 5 year span. Some of the communities are degrading and some of the communities are reviving. I was able to learn how despite different leaders and analysts believe that gentrification is not occurring within Columbus, displacement is occurring and one primary example would be the Pointdexter Village. I tried to track down former residents of the Pointdexter village, but found it difficult to track down former residents, as they probably left the area or Columbus in general. Thanks to the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Ohio Historical Society, I was also able to locate the former black community in the Hilltop area and was able to see the house that the legendary Jesse Owens lived in during his time at Ohio State. Since Owens was one of the few black students and athletes attending Ohio State, he was not allowed to obtain residential housing through the university. Owen’s ended up living in home in the hilltop that seemed pretty far from OSU campus. I was also able to talk to some of the residents that lived in the Hilltop area and they were able to talk about how the community is facing a hard hit with drugs and crime. However, this wasn’t the case historically with the area.
I think this development of understanding was very important for me because it allowed me to gain a new personal understanding of why things are the way they are in Columbus. I also think that it allowed me to go more in depth with incorporating material from my policy major and look into policies that are associated with the changes in Columbus. I also think it was important for me to understand what areas need development and what communities lack resources, which when I become a health professional, providing these resources would be one of my ultimate goal. Such as providing more access to medical care, food security and higher education opportunities.