Harriet Tubman Drive, WSNC

Happy 201st birthday Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman was an amazing woman. The heroic emancipator’s life was the perfect embodiment of both African American history and Women’s history.

Harriet Tubman is a lofty name to bestow on a tiny side street off the Liberty Corridor that runs a short distance from East 16th Street to 15th Street. According to the City of Winston-Salem, documents, Harriet Tubman Drive was formerly named English Street.

“God’s time [Emancipation] is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.”-Harriet Tubman

In 1987, a mosque on English Street petitioned the City to rename English Street to Clara Muhammad Drive. That name change was unacceptable to a neighboring church. After much debate, Harriet Tubman was a compromise street name acceptable to both the Christian and Muslim factions. Harriet Tubman, the brave conductor of the Underground Railroad, never compromised. But here in Winston, Harriet Tubman Drive was a compromise.

Harriet Tubman Drive is just a couple blocks from the Cleveland Avenue Homes. The multi-million dollar transformation of the Cleveland Avenue Homes into ‘Newside’ has been billed as an emancipatory project. But the ‘transformation’ of Cleveland Avenue and the Liberty Corridor is unlikely spillover to Harriet Tubman Drive.

Jim Crow zoning has placed industry on all sides of Harriet Tubman. It’s undermined the neighborhood’s residential quality. In order to emancipate Harriet Tubman Drive from poverty and crime, that neighborhood needs its own project.

In a better, more just world, the former Hanes Hosiery Mill – Ivy Avenue Plant would be redeveloped into residential space for current residents of the Northeast Ward. But that’s unlikely to happen. Too often, everyone profits (business owners, landlords) from East Winston except the residents of East Winston.

Harriet Tubman Drive
Harriet Tubman Drive

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