Greenville group organizer fights for Black communities

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – Jalen Elrod believes many individuals don’t perceive the injustice of gentrification. He discovered about it in a Waffle Home.

“They realize it’s an issue, however I don’t assume too many individuals can put a face on it,” he mentioned.


He credit the Rev. Patrick Tuttle, then pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and a group activist, for explaining gentrification to him in “educational phrases.”

As the 2 sat in a Waffle Home in the future, Tuttle alerted him to one of many worst racial injustices Elrod mentioned he’d seen occur in West Greenville, a historic Black group linked to downtown Greenville.

In 2017, 5 long-term tenants in a row of “quasi-mill village homes” on North Leach Avenue had been evicted to make manner for redevelopment. The tenants had lived within the leases for many years. One tenant, Lois Jenkins, was 102 and had lived in her rental residence for 80 years. She died 9 months later.


Immediately, Elrod, 28, is a group organizer and political marketing campaign supervisor. His most private marketing campaign is in opposition to the gentrification in Greenville’s Black communities.

He and a younger, impartial movie maker in Greenville are making a documentary in regards to the gentrification taking place right here and “how they (Black communities) are being erased whereas our Metropolis Council stands by and does nothing.”

Larger justice can’t occur with out consciousness of the damaging nature of gentrification, he says.


“I believe when you ask your common Greenvillian how many individuals have been gentrified out of their group, they in all probability can’t identify greater than 5,” he mentioned. “So, what we need to do is basically inform actual tales and present the toll this has taken on so many individuals in our group, and in a manner that the powers that be can’t disguise from it.

Had it not been for the pandemic, Elrod would have been marching together with the protesters in Greenville, following the dying of George Floyd. He took a special method to activism due to COVID-19 and issues about compromising the well being of his mom, who was a social employee, and others.


So, whereas quarantined, Elrod wrote an opinion column titled “It May’ve Been Me. It’s Time for Change,” for The Greenville Information. It highlighted modifications Elrod feels wanted to be made when it comes to legislative motion.

Elrod’s household has lived in West Greenville for the reason that 1920s.

His information of grassroots organizing and the capability of individuals to impact change was shaped in his youth. He was 14 when he interned on the Greenville workplace of Barack Obama’s presidential marketing campaign. When Obama received the South Carolina Presidential main, Elrod went to North Carolina and Georgia to assist marketing campaign there.


He additionally mentioned he gave cash to organizations which might be doing “good work” within the battle for equality and in opposition to racial injustices – the City League of the Upstate, the NAACP Authorized Protection Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.


(asterisk) Line merchandise within the Metropolis finances for reasonably priced housing


(asterisk) Line merchandise within the County finances for reasonably priced housing

(asterisk) Implementation of impression charge on developments that may have a disproportionately gentrifying impact on the group

(asterisk) Passage of inclusionary zoning laws


(asterisk) Altering the definition of affordability so it’s not inextricably linked to median revenue

(asterisk) Rally in opposition to Unity Park (a brand new park deliberate in a traditionally Black group) till correct fairness for disenfranchised communities may be assured.



Elrod’s passions embrace politics and comedian books. He figures to attract on the strengths of each to maintain a constructive activism going.

His real-life heroes are native and nationwide trailblazers who fought, marched, and had been arrested or overwhelmed within the battle for civil rights. One such icon, S.C. state Consultant Leola Robinson Simpson, confirmed him why it’s crucial “to place up the baton and proceed to battle for our communities in Greenville.”

He’s utilizing his political involvement – as former head of a Younger Democrats chapter, former first vice chair of the native Democratic Get together and group involvement, and a member of the Neighborhood Remembrance Mission (an initiative to honor victims of lynching in Greenville) – to talk out in opposition to gentrification and different racial injustices.


Within the paraphrased phrases of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elrod mentioned correcting injustices is about “the fierce urgency of now.”

Space residents should turn out to be this era’s heroes.

“If we don’t do one thing vital throughout the subsequent 5 years, all this was for naught,” he mentioned.


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