Why I Came Back

by suziebanthony

48175When I was born times were tough. America had just begun to form itself and it became clear as I was growing up that my country could go in two directions. The first would be to maintain the course, keep slavery and continue to relegate women to second class status and defacto property. The other option was a massive change towards broader equality, the abolition of slavery and the equal treatment of women in society.

I died knowing that “failure was impossible” and I was right. Slavery was abolished in my lifetime and those of African heritage were given equality and voting rights. There have been setbacks since then, but it was clear at that moment in time that freedom was on the march for those our country so egregiously wronged. I the right for women to vote was not too far behind and a couple years after my death it happened. Times were tough, but there was a bright horizon to shoot for. Opportunity, prosperity and equality were possible for all who came to the United States of America.

So why did I come back? A historic church near my home was going to be demolished and replaced by a Dollar General store. To me, this building is a symbol of our collective promises and how we have failed to uphold them. This once thriving church was once part of a prosperous neighborhood in a city that was the first boom town in America. We are no longer thriving, prosperous or booming. The worst part is there is no one to blame for this disaster, but ourselves.

I repeat: It is all our fault.

Over the years we have made choices as a society to do nothing and to change nothing about the way we live.  This stagnation has allowed our city to literally and figuratively crumble.  I love Rochester, but I recognize that it needs help: most children in our city grow up in poverty, only 50% graduate from high school and those of African descent still face tremendous hurdles to be successful in life. I want to help Rochester get back on its feet and give voice to the systemic problems facing our city. This will sometimes take the form of promoting the work of various individuals, non-profits or government initiatives with potential to help our city prosper. Other times I will condemn those who choose to exploit others and the political deals that are often too good to be true.

I believe this city can be great again, but only through an active citizenry whose willing to participate. I will keep you informed as long as you promise to listen.

-Suzie B. Anthony