Gentrification Comes to Atlanta’s Last Working Class Black Neighborhood

Articles | November 15 2017

By Cliff Albright

Walk into the home of Robert and Bertha Darden, and you are immediately surrounded by memories. Like many African American couples who have reached a certain age, the front room of their house is full of photos – of the Dardens in their youth, of their children and grandchildren.

Many of the moments reflected in the photos were captured during their 28 years spent in their Atlanta home. In the midst of all of these stands a plaque. “I received this when I retired after 29 years of working for the City of Atlanta,” Mr. Darden says.

He’s an Atlanta man. Beaming with pride, he tells me he had started working for Atlanta’s sanitation department in 1969, and later transferred to the department of transportation where he remained until his retirement in 1998.

But now the city is aggressively trying to take their house. “It doesn’t feel good at all”, he says. “It’s not a good feeling to give the city 29 years of my life and then they want to take my home.”

The process the city is attempting to use to take ownership of the house is known as “eminent domain”— the power for governmental entities to take private property for public use. The city claims it needs the house, along with others on the same block in the Peoplestown neighborhood, in order to build a park and pond that will help with street flooding.  (Read more)