We must face ourselves. Head on, full frontal, without hesitation or flight. We built us, so we must repair us. This is the challenge we must face. We are more than they wish us to believe. George Washington Carver left a legacy that can still be heard today. His immortal words resound, “You have all that the greatest have had.” We must believe that we can and then we will. No outside help or influence can or will ever be as beneficial as our own ability to come together and organize ourselves to continue to build the nation we call Tuskegee.
When I close my eyes and I dream of Tuskegee, I see the past brought to the future. I see exciting, unique, and highly individual store fronts open for business. I see people walking down the streets smiling and nodding to one another as children run and play with each other under the warm Alabama sun.
When I dream for Tuskegee, I imagine plush gardens nestled behind well-loved homes. Community gardens abound and double as parks and local gathering places. The roads are lined with mix of Alabama wild flowers, wild plums, and other “pick-ables.” People bike on freshly constructed bicycle lanes and city sponsored bicycle drop offs are strategically placed throughout the community. In the outskirts of town a wind mill whips thorough the air powering the city’s electric needs while raising revenues for construction and other public needs.
The public housing communities in the county are powered by solar panels and immaculately draped in lush greenery and vegetation, maintained by the residents as a way of generating income. Community co-op grocery stores and farmer’s markets supply the entire region with a bounty of fresh, locally grown organic vegetables. It’s a vison filled with intricate simplicities. No “Super Centers” or massive chain restaurants, just basic business and entrepreneurial whit. No glamour, but all the glory.
To witness my vision and achieve even greater gains, the community must use its strengths such as its legacy, pride, and connection to overcome its obstacles, toxicity, declining population and waning sense of self. I firmly believe that Tuskegee as a community must begin to talk, think, eat and grow together. A shared process of community connection and healing must take place in order to bind the two biggest elements: Tuskegee University campus and the city of Tuskegee, bound together for each other’s survival. For too many years, a schism has existed between campus and community. One that must be mended through shared experiences, positive connections and missions empowered by solidarity.
By not comparing ourselves to any other community or city, because we are unique, we can mitigate our current situation and begin to heal our own wounds. We need to listen and engage our children, our elderly, students, teachers, preachers, choir members, store clerks, bank tellers, veterans, street hustlers, others with titles and without them so this can be the best city for all citizens. The future is here, we just need to let it blossom. We must believe in ourselves again.