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Now known as Grier Heights, Jimmie Kirkpatrick’s neighborhood carries on

One of Charlotte’s older African-American neighborhoods, Grier Heights was established as a farm community in 1886 by former slaves. By the 1920s, Grier Heights was home to several of Charlotte’s prominent black residents, including Arthur Samuel Grier, a funeral-home director for whom the community is named, and James McVay, the great-great-grandfather of football star Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, who founded Grier Heights’ Antioch Baptist Church.

The community, originally called Grier Town, was a suburb that was home to lower-income families as well as middle-class blacks, some of whom were teachers or worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

In the 1960s, when Kirkpatrick was growing up in Grier Town, the neighborhood’s population of 2,143 was 97 percent black with a median income of $2,779 – about half of Charlotte’s overall median income of $5,592.

According to 2011 census figures, Grier Heights’ population of 2,601 is 90 percent black with a median income of $15,542, less than a third of Charlotte’s overall median income of $53,146.

Grier Heights, which now has a violent crime rate that is five times the city average, recently made news when Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced they are installing specialized gunshot detection sensors in the neighborhood. David Scott

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