“Let it be resolved’

by Jordan Green

So concerned were some members of the Greensboro City Council that residents would get the erroneous impression that the city planned to provide funding for the stillborn International Civil Rights Center and Museum that they passed a resolution on Sept. 4 to dispel any doubts about their intentions.

The resolution introduced by District 5 Councilman Tom Phillips reads, in part: “Whereas, in spite of raising significant funds, Sit-In Movement, Inc. has fallen short of its goals and has asked the city of Greensboro for funding, and whereas, while the city of Greensboro initially provided $225,000 to help the organization get started, the citizens of Greensboro have defeated bond referendums on two occasions that would have provided public funding for the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, therefore let it be resolved that the city of Greensboro will not authorize the use of Greensboro tax revenues for the completion of or operation of the [museum].”

The resolution goes on to encourage citizens to make private donations to complete what it calls a “worthwhile project.”

The council’s intention, some members insisted, had always been to pursue federal funding through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program after they received a request for $1.5 million from the museum in late August.

“Without a doubt what I had suggested was to ask [Director of Housing and Community Development] Andy Scott and his department to explore the possibility of CDGB funding,” Mayor Keith Holliday said. “This is very technical funding that has to qualify through several layers of scrutiny…. That was my request.”

District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small expressed concern that the resolution’s tone would send the wrong message.

“I kind of feel a little uncomfortable about where this is leading,” she said. “We’ve talked about wanting to get this up and running. I talked to a guy who said he picks people up from the airport [and he] says… something they want to see is that site even though it’s not open.”

Bellamy-Small joined the majority to pass the resolution by a vote of 7 to 1. The lone dissenter was at-large Councilwoman Sandra Anderson-Groat.

“I have been stopped on the streets and been asked, “How can you be talking about this when you don’t even have the money to provide the police for gang units,'” Phillips said. He later added, “We are accountable to the voters who have told us on two different occasions that they don’t want to support this with Greensboro tax revenue.”

– Jordan Green