Welcome To Brookhill

By Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Welcome to Brookhill is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this Charlotte, North Carolina neighborhood – like every other neighborhood – has come to be to its inhabitants: home.

The Block (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

The Block, 2018

A camera has always been a conversation piece for me. When used properly, it provides the lens trough which the artist, his subject and the viewer seek understanding. The responsibility of a photographer goes far beyond that complexity of setting - energy, much like light, is reflective and great relationships are built upon trust. Brookhill Village is a neighborhood, much like every other geographical area, made up of strong families who take care of each other, children who play and adults who work only a few miles from the heart of a booming city center. The residents became my friends. I saw their strength, resilience, and determination throughout the creative process and I'm forever grateful for the beautiful stories this amazing community allowed me to tell. - Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. 

Untitled (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

The land where Brookhill stands has been an African-American community dating all the way back to the 1930s. The area was redlined and underdeveloped even as neighboring areas received investment opportunities and resources. Redlining cut off residents, in this and similar neighborhoods in Charlotte, from taking advantage of government secured funding and bank loans that add generational wealth and value to a neighborhood. "We identified two factors that cut across all three determinants: 1) Impact of Segregation and 2) Social Capital, the relationships and networks people have that can connect them to opportunities. These are omnipresent factors with profound impact one economic opportunity, social mobility, and general equality of life." - Executive Summary, Leading on Opportunity

Home Base (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Home Base, 2018

Who will survive in this latest episode of revitalizing Charlotte? According to research from the City's Housing Charlotte report about 1 in 3 households in Charlotte are considered "cost-burdened," meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing. That number is largely renter households. Renters represent a little under half of all households in Charlotte but account for almost 70 percent of cost-burdened households. Ms. Lockett and her family were at home this evening enjoying the lighter moments of an awards show. Their living room was full of like life many other living rooms in Brookhill Village. Ms. Lockett and other residents in the community, consider themselves an actual village. 

Family Ties, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Home Instead, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Aunty Antoinette, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Good Neighbor (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Good Neighbor, 2018

"It's hard for someone that's handicapped; this is home for me. If anything were to happen to me my neighbor right there would take care of me..." - Brenda Polk, Brookhill Village Resident    

Summer Sandlot (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Summer Sandlot, 2018

Brookhill Village is located close to City Center, on a bus line, and most importantly, its rent is in the right price range for many of its residents. The rents are among the lowest in the city. The property's prime location and the vulnerability of the renter status of its inhabitants has made the community a target for gentrification and redevelopment. Brookhill Village's complicated ownership structure might be one of the reasons this 1950s-era housing development still stands. "Housing for low income renters is disappearing fast. The vast majority of affordable housing is privately owned and operated, and most of it takes the form of older, cheaper apartments known as "naturally occurring affordable housing." And those apartments are fast being redeveloped, upgraded or replaced outright with luxury apartments." - Charlotte Observer and Housing Charlotte

Cotton Candy (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Cotton Candy, 2018

What opportunities does Charlotte hold for its next generation of residents? Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Breaking the Link report and may other studies have indicated that breaking up concentrations of poverty in schools is one way to provide high quality education to all students. Others have identified Early Childhood education as a necessary took in helping to shift outcomes for youth in moderate-to-low income communities. This is the entryway to a neighborhood  that has raised generations of Charlotteans. It's the people that make communities rich, not the buildings. Capturing this image from ground level was a bit of a challenge but worth it. Sometimes changing your perspective can yield amazing results. - Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. 

Water World, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Sun Shadows, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Look Out, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Sisterhood, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Slap Box, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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The Gridiron, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., 2018, From the collection of: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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Step Show (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Step Show, 2018

July 19th Baby China is ready for a stroll around the neighborhood while her father Van "2Face" Anthony looks on. She's getting pretty good at it. It's great to see children play, freedom is everything as is safety which are two things her father provides. Working full time as a single dad defies most of the fatherhood narratives in the African-American community. 2Face is destroying those stereotypes. -Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. 

Untitled (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Untitled (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Provider (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Provider, 2018

"My daughter was born here, I conceived her here, and we're still here. I though she would grow up here...but it don't look like it." - Van "2Face" Anthony

Break Down (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Break Down, 2018

In the late 1980s, there was a professional wrestling group that called themselves "Demolition." They wore black and silver gear with painted faces. In this image we see a black and silver demolition crane that tore a home from its foundation. Families once livd here, quite a few of them actually. As is common in television storylines, writers can write you out. This is one of the images I felt I needed but had no idea I would capture it in the early days of the project. - Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. 

Between Us (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Black Top (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Back Door (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Gate Keepers (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Residential Security Map (Official Map of Charlotte, N.C.) (1935) by Division of Research & Statistics with the cooperation of the Appraisal Department Home Owners' Loan CorporationHarvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Mapping Inequality

Mapping Inequality offers unprecedented online access to the national collection of security maps and area descriptions produced between 1935 and 1940 by one of the New Deal's most important agencies, the Home Owner's Loan Corporation or HOLC (pronounced "holk"). HOLC recruited mortgage lenders, developers, and real estate appraisers in nearly 250 cities to create maps that color-coded credit worthiness and risk on neighborhood and metropolitan levels. These maps and their accompanying documentation helped set the rulers for nearly a century of real estate practice. Mapping Inequality illustrates vividly the interplay between racism, administrative culture, economics, and the built environment Visitors can browse over 150 interactive maps and roughly 5,000 individual area descriptions to get a view of Depression-era America as developers, realtors, tax assessors, and surveyors saw it - a set of interlocking color-lines, racial groups, and environmental risks. 

Why Cities Are Still So Segregated | Let's Talk | NPRHarvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Please be advised 0:00 - 0:13 contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children

D-9 area description (1937) by City of Charlotte, N.C.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

D-9 area description, 1937

Redlining - a discriminatory practice by which banks, insurance companies, etc., refuse or limit loans, mortgages, insurance, etc., within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods. Brookhill Village's current status can be dated back to as early as 1930. Resources have been diverted from the area for decades as a result of Redlining. 

Family and Friends (2018) by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

Credits: Story

Organized by the Harvey B. Gantt Center; Permanent Collection of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Photographed by Artist-in-Residence, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.

Please visit the link for further information about housing, volunteer services, housing vulnerability and additional resources: https://ganttcenter.org/exhibitions/welcome-to-brookhill/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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