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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William Fonvielle, August 2, 2002. Interview R-0174. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Resentment toward revitalization efforts

Fonvielle vents his frustration with city politicians who treat black community in a cavalier fashion. He argues that because blacks own little property they have little voice in governmental decisions about their community. Consequently, redevelopment projects begin replicating the urban renewal projects of the 1960s and 1970s, which Fonvielle discusses earlier in the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William Fonvielle, August 2, 2002. Interview R-0174. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM FONVIELLE:
Well, where I store is empty. That hurts me to think that they tore down a black landmark and nothing's there. That property is what $500,000 now. I don't know how you justify. I don't know how the city, okay, the city. Now this is the thing I have problems with. The city bought that property. The city doesn't own that property anymore. It's privately owned.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
At some point they sold it.
WILLIAM FONVIELLE:
Yeah, at some point they sold it. Why wouldn't they try to sell it back to me? That's what really burns me, and they've got a guy, a black guy now from what I understand that is going around trying to make the cities be responsible for that kind of action. I'm not sure how it works because I wrote him a letter, and he wrote me back. So I imagine I will get to meet him one day. But I think that's a travesty where you take somebody, you give them $15,000 in 1963, '64, and then in 2002 that property is no longer owned by the city, and it's owned by a private individual and the price tag is a half million dollars.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Worth quite a bit more.
WILLIAM FONVIELLE:
I think the bank may have bought it. I'm not sure.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I know that the Bynes Royal was also pushed out. I think they gave a fight.
WILLIAM FONVIELLE:
Yeah, Frank Bines is a strong individual, but there again still, he had to go. So he may have gotten more than somebody that didn't know any better, but in terms of what it was really worth and relocation money and to—well he didn't have to build. He bought, but still it wasn't fair. Burger King, Wendy's, it's like. Okay, we don't have any say so about what goes on in the black community because we don't own anything. We can't develop anything because we can't borrow any money. So we sit back, and we watch. It's going to be interesting to see what Dr. Evans can do because I don't know if you're aware he owns, he's from out of Detroit originally, I think, from Savannah, and he's come in and bought maybe eight or ten parcels on MLK. His first development was the SDS, Savannah Development and Renewal Authority right down here in Huntington and MLK. That was an old fish market, wholesale fish market that he bought and now has developed and it's going to be apartments upstairs, and SDRA is downstairs. So it's going to be interesting to see whether his ideas can change ML King. [phone rings] Cut it off. Hello. Hey. [break] Yes, so it's going to be interesting to see if he can get the crossover because you're not going to find many black folk who want to rent an apartment for $1500 on ML King across the street from a Wendy's.