Originally published by Ideastream Public Media - Alexandra Golden, February 22, 2023
Akron has launched an effort to collect the stories of the people who were displaced by the Innerbelt.
A vibrant neighborhood which was home to many African American families was wiped out in 1970 to make way for the innerbelt. The highway, which was never fully built out and was underused, was finally decommissioned in 2018.
In 2020, Liz Ogbu was hired as the project consultant for the Innerbelt project. The City of Akron hired her to help determine the community’s preference for the future of the land occupied by the highway. But while deciding what the future was, she felt it was important had to document the area's past.
“It’s hard for people to trust that you're going to do right by them in the future, if you haven't done right by them in the past,” Ogbu said. “And so, a very important first step is to actually acknowledge the past and tell the full story of what was there before the innerbelt.”
As co-curator of the Innerbelt History Collection, Ogbu found that by listening to people talk about the past, they were more willing to share their thoughts about the future of the area, she said...