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The meaning of the word 'community' has changed over the years. Before it was just part of our culture to look out and protect one another. We had a bond as a people. But today, it seems the idea of community has been lost. We need leaders to set an example and to take pride once again in our sense of community.

By Pastor William Andrews

What happened to us?

I grew up in Bellevue Square housing project in Hartford Connecticut in the late fifties and early sixties. This was my world, 180 three room units, 80 four room units, 40 4 ½ room units, 89 five ½ room units, and 28 six ½ units, all crammed into one square mile. Fourteen apartment buildings, 417 units, 5 stories high buildings built to replace the squalid tenement of the north end of Hartford in 1940. It was home, it was community.

The sense of community was the result of a cohesive desire to build a better life for each family in the projects. Mrs. Robinson, Ms. Nixon, Ms. Harrington or any one of the mothers could hold any child accountable for his or her action. The P.T.A. was actually run and supported by the parents, and school plays were attended by the community at large. The community created a marching patrol to participate in the city parades, and residents would meet once a month to discuss ways they could better the community.

These were people who migrated from the south. These were people who looked for opportunities to improve their circumstances and were willing to work hard for it. Entitlement at this time was merely a stepping stone, as the fathers who were there took pride in being leaders and protectors of the community. Black politicians actually work to bring progress to the community. Families clean the neighborhood and the children were trained up to help and take pride in their community. Pregnancy outside of marriage was a point of shame and a lazy man was frowned upon.

My question is: What happened to us?

We are no longer on one accord. Our togetherness as a community is dead on the side of the road. The unity of purpose has evaporated only to appear as a cloud of self-interest.

Each group, church, and organization is trying to crawl their way to the highest income level while building their own personal or organizational kingdom.

Our moral compass is askew. We’ve accepted abnormal behavior as normal. Thieves, violent people, and drug pushers walk the streets of our community without fear of the residents because nobody wants to be labeled a ‘snitch’. Since when has this become a tradition?

Modesty is lost. The lewd has taken over. Sexual promiscuity thrives and our sons and daughters are having babies at an early age out of wedlock and they are totally unprepared for the responsibility of parenthood.

Parents are no longer the symbols of adulthood. Far too many are waiting for a handout and have accepted ‘entitlement’ as a way of life. Children are being taught to give up on their dreams at an early age in life based upon the examine they see.

Much of what we go through as a community now lies in our hands. Yes, we know the field is not level. Yes, we know that the powers to be aren’t fair. At some point, however, we the community have to come together for change. We have to hold our leaders accountable in how they represent the interests of the community. We need leaders who will truly produce and listen to the people.

Enough with the picnics. Enough of the congratulatory posters. Enough of showing up and sticking your face in front of the cameras. This is what we don’t need. We need visionary leaders who are committed to the people and the community.

So how do we go about producing change for the future? That’s a great question. Next month we will talk about these issues and how we as a community can create change for a brighter future. We will speak about the responsibilities of our politicians and the representation of the community interests. So until next month, may God’s blessings shine upon you and your families at all times.

His name always,

William Andrews

William Andrews is the Executive Director of Mercy Drive Ministries and Pastor of Heart of Mercy Community Church.

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