Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

May 9, 1970

Guest post by Paige Chapman, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.

On May 9, 1970, page 3 of the New York Amsterdam News displayed the story of an ill woman and her large family in search for space, security, and comfort. Juanita Kimble and her nine children were living in poor, cramped conditions in a Bronx motel on welfare while buildings owned by Columbia University stood vacant and unused.

Columbia’s violation of the Board of Estimate’s plan to restrict university expansion resulted in them removing about 300 residents from their homes in Morningside Heights in 1965. Here, five years later, Mrs. Kimble saw the opportunity to take advantage of the unused space and, with the help of hundreds in her community, moved her family into the vacant area.
“My children deserve more than what they have been receiving.”

Mrs. Kimble’s will and determination to take matters into her own hands is something that I found not only astounding, but perhaps meant by the Amsterdam News to be inspiring to other women going through the same domestic and financial struggles as Mrs. Kimble.

The article can be seen as a rally for community involvement in housing projects and the protection of deteriorating neighborhoods being crushed by institutions. Several neighborhoods in New York City have disappeared due to large institutional expansion, which has kept poverty in concentrated and intentional areas. I also felt that this article was well-representative of communal activism and the impact that it makes on a neighborhood. Mrs. Kimble is pictured surrounded by some of her friends and children that assisted and supported her in her decision to stand her ground for the sake of giving her family a better home. 

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