Rising inequality and spreading gentrification have become hot-button topics in Charlotte over the past few years, especially in the wake of protests that rocked the city in 2016.
Noted civil rights activist and author John Perkins will be addressing those topics and how Charlotte’s rising rent and skyrocketing housing prices are impacting the city at an event next week. But in an interview with the Observer, he said that the discussion needs to go beyond housing policies, redevelopment and dry income statistics.
“It’s more than a little old housing discussion,” said Perkins. “That’s a symptom. There’s something much deeper than that, in terms of our brokenness.”
Perkins said he believes people are being neglected and not treated as equals, and that lies at the root of problems which surface as income inequality, segregated neighborhoods and renters being pushed out of their longtime homes.
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“Human dignity has not been affirmed,” said Perkins. “We are broken, as human beings...All of these other things are symptoms that outgrow from that.”
Perkins said solutions that don’t address the root issues are no better than “band-aids on a cancer.”
Charlotte saw widespread street protests following the Sept. 2016 shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. After those protests, some pointed to economic inequality and displacement through gentrification as root causes of the unrest.
Perkins, 87, led demonstrations and voter registration drives in the deep South during the civil rights era. He has also authored 16 books.
The discussion with Perkins is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17 at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte. Glenn Burkins of Q City Metro will moderate. You can register online for the free event, presented by Foundation for the Carolinas, True Homes and The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-dr-john-m-perkins-tickets-40145730962?aff=ehomecard.