“I hope this Monday the 20th we can make our voices heard [and] somebody can listen to us,” activist Hector Pineda Martinez told Oscar Fernandez, host of the Latino Media Collective on Pacifica Radio’s WPFW 89.3 FM.
This coming Monday, August 20 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., WPFW and the Alexandria chapter of the NAACP are holding a town hall at the Charles Houston Recreation Center located at 901 Wythe Street in Alexandria, two blocks from the Braddock Road Metro. Twice a year, WPFW’s Local Station Board (LSB) holds town halls to hear directly from community members. (The previous WPFW LSB town hall focused on Occupy DC.)
Northern Virginia, like much of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, has seen a great deal of economic development in recent years, with much more slated to come. Many worry that current residents won’t be around to benefit from the development, but will instead be priced out.
That’s the case with Martinez and his family. They live in the Beauregard area of Alexandria’s West End, where city officials have given the green light to a team of developers led by JBG to build 12.4 million square feet of mostly of upscale housing. In the process, 2,475 units of some of Alexandria’s most affordable housing, including the Martinez’s homes, will be demolished.
“It’s very sad, you know, very frustrating,” said Martinez, who along with his wife, Veronica Calzada, helped create the Beauregard Tenants Association and together they’ve also been organizing with the grassroots group Tenants and Workers United. “Our government and people like JBG try to displace people of color [from their] homes,” said Martinez, who plans on attending the upcoming town hall.
“That’s the job of WPFW, being a voice for those who do not have a voice,” WPFW LSB chairman Tony Norman said on the Latino Media Collective. “We want to continue doing that and expand our base there in northern Virginia.”
The location of the town hall, at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, is apt, according to Norman. “[Houston] was a mentor to Thurgood Marshall… He was a fighter. He was the one who introduced using the law to fight for the black man’s rights in [the struggle for] equality in America,” said Norman, who attended Howard University Law School, where Houston was a professor and dean for many years. As NAACP litigation director, Houston earned the title “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow.”
Alexandria’s Trail of Tears, May 16, 2012