Community Leaders: Maurice Holland, Sr. teachers law students about municipal exclusion and community advocacy

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Midway community leader Maurice Holland spoke to UNC Law students volunteering at the Fall 2011 Wills Trip in Moore County, NC. Mr. Holland spoke about the challenges facing excluded communities and the history of the Midway community’s political and legal activism to get municipal services.

Maurice Holland Fall 2011 Wills Trip from UNC School of Law on Vimeo.

The Midway Community Association and lawyers from the Center for Civil Rights secured support from the Aberdeen Town Council to seek legislative annexation for the community which, because of its systematic and historic exclusion, could not meet the development standards for statutory annexation.The legislation to include Midway in the Town of Aberdeen was approved by the General Assembly in June 2009, following the completion of water and sewer infrastructure serving the community. Since annexation, the Center has worked with Midway to correct the zoning of portions of the community that were inconsistent with the remainder of the community. The zoning correction was necessary to protect the neighborhoodfrom gentrification, now a substantial risk given the addition of the long deprived infrastructure. The Center and the community association have simultaneously worked to improve the housing stock in Midway. Thanks to our long standing collaboration, Habitat for Humanity has recently opened Midway Gardens, a new habitat development in the community. Additionally, the Midway Community Association has received a grant from Resourceful Communities to begin removing or restoring dilapidated structures that may attract crime or illegal dumping.

Talking about living in Aberdeen’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction area, Maurice said “living in Midway, I’ve been excluded all my life…..I was 65 years old before I could vote in the municipal elections, even though we lived one mile from City Hall. But the city could zone us and put any restrictions on us. We lived only half a mile from the police station, but if someone was robbing my house, I’d have to call the station in Carthage, eighteen miles away.”

Maurice Holland Sr.

Mr. Holland has served as a community advocate not just to help excluded communities in North Carolina, but has used his experiences to connect with other excluded communities across the country. Mr. Holland and Midway residents arranged reciprocal visits with a Latino community in Modesto, California, facing similar exclusion problems. Mr. Holland told students, “I saw that they were no different than Midway,” and encouraged community advocates to “ally with new people to carry on the vision. Don’t create an ‘elite’ group. Involve new voices and new perspectives.”

The next steps for the Midway community is to follow up on Aberdeen’s promise to match the Resourceful Communities grant and support efforts to take down dilapidated housing in Midway.

Mr. Holland thanked the students for coming to the Wills Trip in Moore County, and hoped that they had learned something from it. He said, “I hope this helps you realize that no matter how affluent this country gets, there will always be people who will be excluded, under represented, or not represented at all.”

Mr. Holland left the law students with a simple life lesson: “Have principle, purpose, and persistence.”

Mr. Holland also spoke to students during the 2009 Wills Trip. Learn more about Midway and municipal exclusion through these materials:

Workshops for Excluded Communities (PDF). Held in partnership with the Southern Moore Alliance for Excluded Communities - Jackson Hamlet Community Association, Midway Community Association, Waynor Road in Action, and Voices for Justice - and the Legal Aid of North Carolina's Clients Counsel, the grassroots trainings seek to educate and empower communities to use activism to address the effects of municipal underbounding in their communities.

Invisible Fences: Municipal Underbounding in Moore County, N.C (PDF). This report documents five minority communities' experience with a modern-day form of racial segregation known as municipal underbounding, whereby predominantly minority communities are kept separate from their larger, predominantly white municipal counterparts. Such exclusion often results in the denial of basic services such as water, sewer, and police, which are enjoyed by the bordering towns. Residents of excluded communities also are denied the right to vote in municipal elections even though they are subject to a town's extra-territorial regulatory powers. The report includes an appendix documenting the success of the communities' activism to bring improved public infrastructure to their communities.

Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Tue. December 6, 2011 3:24 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Community Leaders, Moore County
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