*An Illinois resident has purchased land that was previously owned by Black families who were forced to forfeit their property to white developers in 1929.
When Steven Rogers of Evanston saw that land was up for sale, he purchased it to use for the betterment of the Black community.
According to The Daily Northwestern, Rogers will use the land to host HBCU choirs and other cultural activities. A memorial will also be erected honoring the Black families who lost the land in the 20th century.
“I know the history of Blacks in America. But when something comes close to you like that, it becomes personalized,” Rogers said to The Daily Northwestern. “It made it real.”
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He added, “I was able to use all of my Harvard Business School experience, all of my corporate experience, all of my entrepreneurship experience, everything that I had been endowed with to help these people fight a Fortune 500 company. And we won.”
Rogers formed the Englewood Railway Coalition in 2011 to oppose the Norfolk Southern Corporation. Typically Black homeowners were displaced from Englewood in Chicago as a result of the company’s attempt to build a freight yard there.
It was Rogers’ goal in forming the coalition to fight for prices that reflect the seriousness of uprooting a community.
“I was able to use all of my Harvard Business School experience, all of my corporate experience, all of my entrepreneurship experience, everything that I had been endowed with to help these people fight a Fortune 500 company,” Rogers said. “And we won.”
Last year, Rogers published “Successful Black Entrepreneurs,” which highlights the challenges Black business owners face, such as access to capital.
“It’s been over 246 years of slavery, 60 years of Black Codes, 40 years of redlining,” Rogers said. “That’s 346 years, and 346 years later we’re still fighting for equality in terms of being recognized as citizens of the United States,” he said.
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