The county already decimated parts of the neighborhood and displaced residents in the late 1950s and 1960s by building the two freeways. Several buildings, churches and homes were destroyed for the freeways, separating Highland Terrace and Liberty Park. Displaced residences were not assisted with relocation.
Even worse, many properties were stolen through a government process called eminent domain, in which both local and state governments can legally seize privately-owned land for public use.
Deborah Archer, a clinical law professor at New York University, told the Post that many Black communities had been sacrificed so those white communities could remain segregated.
“Black communities were impacted because they were Black communities,” she said Archer. “They were impacted to remove Black people. They were impacted because people wanted to lock in segregation.”
Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse agrees with Archer and noted that Atlanta’s Interstate-20 was designed to divide Black communities and Caucasians. Environmental racism was also practiced in cities such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and St. Paul, to name a few.
Many cities purposely built landfills, highways, oil refineries, power plants and transportation hubs in Black neighborhoods and referred to them as “sacrifice communities.”
Charleston County doesn’t want to stop with widening the freeway. The county also has a $720 million plan to build an expressway to James and John’s Islands from the expanded beltway. Both Islands are home to historic African American neighborhoods. Freed slaves made communities in the area in the 1870s, and the construction of the expressway would destroy another Black community.
The Biden Administration has a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan meant to address racial inequities in the country’s infrastructure, and it is about to be tested.