• Anita Mogaka

Black Developer Offers Community $30+ Million Opportunity to Own The Block

We are living through a highly critical inflection point in our nation’s history.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen how the global pandemic has impacted Black people the most, highlighting the disproportionate health and economic challenges that are faced daily. It’s been just a few weeks since we witnessed George Floyd killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, which sparked uprisings around the country calling for an end to police brutality and all systemic racism.

While for decades, we’ve studied the various factors that contribute to the harm that African-Americans have faced, Milwaukee native and Developer, Lavelle Young, thinks it’s high time that these insights translate into sustained strategies to finally end the unnecessary suffering and deaths among Black Americans.

Young, who won the Request for Proposal (RFP) to redevelop the Martin Luther King Jr. Library back in December 2016 announced Friday, an opportunity for community members “to pledge support and interest in participating in a community ownership model” of the $30+ million redevelopment project. This catalytic project includes three buildings that consist of a brand new 18,000 sq. ft. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 91 affordable housing units, and a 93 year old historic Theatre to be redeveloped in Phase 2 of the project.

Find out more info at

This effort is not only to commemorate the 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth, a day remembering the end of slavery in America, but also to utilize group economics as a way to build and empower community through the collective ownership of “The Block”. Young sees group economics and owning land as tools that Black people can use to obtain generational wealth and collective ownership.

“I’ve learned that in order to understand wealth and inequality in this country, you have to understand black land loss. For generations, the black community has been stripped of their access to opportunity, their basic rights, and most importantly, their dignity,” shared Young.

Between 1910 and 1997, Black Americans lost about 90% of their farmland. A group of economists and statisticians recently calculated that, since 1910, black families have been stripped of hundreds of billions of dollars because of lost land. Most recently, a new WalletHub study released just two days ago confirmed these statistics showing that the national average black family has a net worth of $17,150 compared to $171,000 (ten times of black families) for the average white family. It's even further troubling to find that Wisconsin hits the bottom of several lists within this study, which highly reflects the conditions within the city.

“It’s gruesome to turn on the TV and frequently see a Black man that looks like me, lynched. It’s even more nightmarish to live in a city that has consistently topped most, if not all, major cities as the worst place for Black people to live,” said Young.

Ultimately, Juneteenth reinvigorates the push to dismantle racism in all forms. It may seem like a lot, but a lot is what is required to provide true liberation for Black people in America.

You can pledge your support and interest in participating in a community ownership model of The Block, by visiting

About Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger would arrive in Galveston, Tx. and issue Gen. Order No. 3 which proclaimed, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and the rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

Incredibly, many Texans and the more than 200,000 enslaved people there had failed to hear of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had gone into effect Jan. 1, 1863. Texas would make it a state holiday in 1980 and today many states have an official day of observance as parades, picnics, prayer services, and proclamations are all common ways that have come to represent many Juneteenth commemorations.

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