The highway to nowhere: Pastor Gregory Harrison discusses being displaced by Akron Innerbelt; NYKA podcast
In the latest edition of the Now You Know Akron podcast, host Craig Webb and Beacon Journal reporter Seyma Bayram are joined by the Rev. Gregory Harrison.
Harrison, a retired Akron police officer and pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, tells the story of his family being displaced by construction of the Akron Innerbelt when he was just a child.
City leaders had big plans for the Innerbelt, a highway connecting downtown Akron to the suburbs. Instead, it became a highway to nowhere — a never-completed road that tore apart a neighborhood and pushed hundreds of Black families out of their homes and off the path to generational wealth. At least 737 households were displaced according to municipal records, including the childhood home of Harrison.
“It really shook my sense of security,” Harrison said. “We didn’t have a say in it. For someone going into fourth grade going from an all-Black neighborhood to an all-white neighborhood — we were the first Black family on our street. We were not received with open arms by everyone on the street ... it was pretty traumatic. We were called names that we hadn’t heard or hadn’t been called before. (We) got in fights that we otherwise would not have gotten into. We were moved to pretty much what I would consider a foreign land.”
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: NYKA podcast: Pastor discusses being displaced by Akron Innerbelt