“Let it Shine, Let it Shine”
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. In the City Council chamber, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine.” - Hezekiah McDonald, a second grade student who lives in the Westside, singing while marching to the City Council.
They came from College Hills and the Westside, from East Chattanooga and Alton Park, and from public and low-income housing sites all across the city, and when they walked into the Chattanooga City Council Building on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, they did so carrying over 1,200 signatures on a petition demanding that Chattanooga City Government make the right to housing a key priority for poor and working families and communities of color.
The “March to Support the Right to Housing” was a major milestone in the fight to save Chattanooga’s public and low-income housing communities. Over 100 residents, supporters, and allies marched from the Westside community to the Chattanooga City Council. Once there, residents of the Westside, a public and low-income housing community under attack by Mayor Ron Littlefield and Purpose Built Communities, made speeches and turned in their petitions.
Below, you can find copies of the the speeches along with COA’s own video presentations of the march.
From the Westside to City Hall…
“Heavenly Father, we come before you with a problem. Help us stress and get through to this stubborn City Council and this City Council our concerns and cares.” - Karl Epperson
Michael Hutchins, College Hills resident, Speaks to the City Council
Michael Hutchins’ speech
“For public housing and low-income residents, there are few places left for us to go. I feel like our homes are under attack and that the people who want to destroy our communities are right on our door-steps. We need a better plan for housing in Chattanooga. We need you to stand up and work with us. We need elected leaders to have our back.”
Karl Kendrick, resident of Gateway Towers, Speaks to City Council
Karl Kentrick’s Speech
“Some say that the City cannot help public housing, but my building was built with the support of the Chattanooga City Commission decades ago. Back then, public housing had financial and political support from the City because of city leaders who supported the right to housing.”
Gloria Griffith and her grandson, Hezekiah McDonald, speak to the City Council.
Gloria Griffith’s Speech
“As hard as we struggle, some still want to take away what we have. Mayor Littlefield seems intent on taking away not only our most beloved festival, the Bessie Smith Strut, but he has invited Purpose Built Communities to take our homes away, too. But the Strut and College Hills are not his to take. They are ours and we are taking them back.”
Here’s a summary of the event’s media coverage!
Grassroots Photography: photography by COA members Jared Story and Andy Comanda
Times Free Press:
- “Frustrated Westside Chattanooga residents take to streets over Purpose Built”
- “Demonstrators target frustrations at Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield”
- VIDEO: “Westside residents march in protest”
WRCB Channel 3
WDEF Channel 12
Thanks to everyone who helped make the march successful. Chattanooga Organized for Action will continue working with the Wetstside Community Association as they fight to save public and low-income housing all throughout Chattanooga.
“Stand up! Stand up! Everyone who supports public housing stand up!”
- Hezekiah McDonald, at the end of his grandmother’s speech to the City Council.
To his delight, his words were heard.
The entire room stood.