The East End is a community built on a racist decree, which required all Black residents of the city to live there. For years, it was neglected by the city and lacked basic infrastructure; to this day, the majority of neighborhood roads remain unpaved. But longtime residents say the East End thrived in spite of this, becoming a place where neighbors helped each other build homes and businesses and residents had their pick of churches, as well as local gardens to snag some fresh produce for dinner.
At least, that’s what I’ve been told – to visit the East End today is to drive down largely empty roads, a far cry from the photos residents showed me of packed blocks of family homes. The remaining houses are now dwarfed by industrial buildings; industrial pollution leaves an almost burnt taste in the back of your throat if you spend too much time outdoors. Though remaining residents recognize it is not a healthy place to stay, they also are resistant to leave behind their longtime homes, both for sentimental and monetary value.
However, they no longer have a choice.
95% of the East End has been bought up by the neighboring Port of Freeport, which has been undergoing an expansion for years. The Port’s methods of acquiring this land, including the use of eminent domain, are currently the subject of a Title VI racial discrimination complaint, as I further detail in the the article.
“What I accumulated, I thought I would enjoy it and my family [would] inherit it, but now, everything’s going to pieces while I’m here,” Henry Jones, a 70-plus-year resident of the East End, told me.