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New non-profit fights to preserve history of five black communities in Clemson

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CLEMSON, SC (WSPA)–The Shaw Center, a new non-profit in Clemson, needs your help as it fights to preserve historically black communities in the city. The group hopes this plan with tackle gentrification.

As Clemson continues to grow, the George and Roszena Shaw Center for Housing and Economic Growth, is working to sustain five black neighborhoods. Organizers hope with the help of the community, they can make repairs and restore many homes.

Rosa Grayden remembers her life growing up in the Calhoun District. Grayden said approximately 100 acres used to be owned by her grandparents, George and Roszena Shaw.

“When my family decided to sell the land, they sold it for a few thousand. I believe my daddy’s share was either $8,000 or $10,000. That’s millions across the road, when we could have just rented out the land, and could’ve been used for the legacy. By this happening, at first I lost hope,” Grayden said. “It means a lot because we’re losing our legacy here in Clemson,” she said.

Grayden’s grandfather was said to be a convict, who helped build Clemson University. Later, he purchased the land on which you might see today, filled with restaurants along Tiger Boulevard before it was sold.

“By me crying now, I’m able to get up and move forward and help other people, talk to other people if it’s nothing but listening, and letting them know that I’m here to help,” Grayden said.

“It seems like student housing is more prevalent than residential,” Grayden said.

The Shaw Center, started work last Summer, to beautify and preserve the historic black communities.

“Well affordable housing in Clemson has been an issue for a very long period of time. And so what we are trying to do and as the name states, this is about affordable housing within our historic black communities in Clemson,” said John Fulmer, chair of the George and Roszena Shaw Center for Housing and Economic Growth. “There are roughly five of those communities here. And obviously it’s going to be about the preservation of these communities, which has been an issue with gentrification.”

“What we’re trying to do at this stage of the game, is take that $100,000 for example, and maybe fix or repair 10 to 12 houses or whatever the case may be, and bring those homes up to a more livable standard,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer, said the work will be done in Cadilliac Heights, the Calhoun District, the Abel, Vista, and Red Hill neighborhoods.

“They’d like to see some areas cleaned up. They’d like to see… fixed or demolished. There’s also issues with underbrush, trees and those types of things, but it’s essentially about further beautifying their neighborhoods,” Fulmer said.

Organizers will also educate and help families with legal things.

“There’s also what I would call, housing related issues that go with that, such as titles or surveys…property, wills, powers of attorneys, those types of things, that we intend to also help the community with on a pro bono bases,” Fulmer said.

“Through the survey, it will help empower them with the knowledge,” Grayden said. “It’s important to me for them not to lose what I lost,” she said.

With donations from the community, input, and helping hands, the group hopes together they can save and protect Clemson’s black communities for ages to come.

“Because this right here, we going to save our community, one house at a time. It’s coming,” Grayden said. “I’m going to work for my people. That’s it, point blank. And I love what I do, even through the storm, and I’m not going to stop fighting,” she explained.

The Shaw Center has created a “needs survey”, to help identify the work that needs to be done. They’ve received 15 surveys back thus far, and desire many more.

The non-profit is also asking for donations to start the restoration that needs to be done, and labor workers to help when that begins.

To get involved with this organization, email John Fulmer at johnlfulmer@gmail.com. You can also email Rosa Grayden at grosa@clemson.edu.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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