The Legacy of Levyton…An American Story
The Legacy of Levyton…An American Story
From Benita Little and Samantha Leach
It’s the eve of the election, and I am sitting in my home in Fayetteville, N.C. watching CNN – thinking about tomorrow… and yesterday… a place that was always safe for me and my family. That is until the Fayetteville Police came to my home so I could file a police report for the HATE crime that had been inflicted on us – right on our property. Present day – we are surrounded by Romney/Ryan supporters, and I am not so sure how safe we are right now. They have to pass through Levytown to get to their little communities that sprung up while I was away at Howard University and during the last 15 years as my older family members passed away and their survivors sold off parcels of the family land.
Levytown is one of the oldest self-contained communities owned by the same African-American family in Cumberland County(Cross Creek), N.C. My great-grandfather, Jordan Madison Levy, developed about 12 of his 40 acres in the mid ’50’s to accommodate single family cottages that would house military families who could not find housing else-where because of discrimination.
Many residents were inter-racial couples who were wed at some military installation or foreign destination outside of the US where troops were serving during and following wartime. So, LEVYTOWN represented the world!
It was multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual, diverse and represented many nationalities and cultures that were not only unfamiliar with life in North Carolina, but also unwelcomed here as well. These couples and families were not only denied housing on base, but they were also denied housing off base in the city of Fayetteville, as well. In Levy-town there were no restrictions or discrimination against any race, creed or color.
In Levytown everyone was welcomed and provided with a safe, clean, affordable housing option in a family-friendly com-munity totally insulated from the outside world; and just a five minute ride from the bustling hub of downtown Fayetteville and a 10 minute walk from the hospital where I was born. LEVYTOWN pro-vided its residents with a place to call home and accepting people to call neighbors.
What we had was run much like an old southern plantation — except we were the land owners, developers, farmers, and there were no indentured servants, no cotton fields, but instead grape vineyards. No slave quarters, but instead modest single family homes. Everything we had was ours, and ours alone! There were no mortgage loans or debt consolidations, we were empowered and living the American Dream.
We (Jordan Levy’s heirs) grew up owning lots of land… everything as far as the eye could see. It was a really comfortable feeling knowing that you were surrounded by “kin folk” and the only requirement to have a family reunion was just gathering at someone’s home whenever our “Yankee bunch” (family from up North) would visit, which was often.
The residents were not only our tenants, but more importantly they were like extended family members. I played with all the kids in the neighborhood and they came in all shades! They were my friends; and we were one big happy multi-race community. On any given day I could visit with Miss Fannie from Germany and have weiner snitzel or homemade strudel from her kitchen, or Miss Thompson from Japan and have rice crackers or Japanese sea-weed tea, or Miss Monica from Panama who was always cooking up padi noodles or Thai inspired dishes, or even my Great-Granddaddy Jordan, or “Pa Levy”, who was always making “beverages” with those grapes from our vineyard. Whatever the season there was always endless international fare in Levytown and everyone shared what they had — all the time. That’s just the way we lived. That’s how I was raised and what I know to be true.
We were a real tight-knit community. We paid it forward and we took care of each other. We were our brother’s keeper. No one had too much, but we all had enough. We were hard-working, tax paying patriots who served our God, our family and our community. We march-ed, we voted, we walked. We rode. We built more, made home improvements, invested more, sent our kids to college, we paid our taxes and continued to work in our community. Yes, like President Obama — in Levy-town we all earned the right to be successful and to live the American Dream by working for it.
Some of us moved away never to return, but I came back.
Most of the time it feels like I never left; until today when I had to file a police report for a HATE CRIME directed at my family and posted in my yard. In my Levytown? Not the place I know. My 89-year-old mom and I still live in the same house she lived in when she was just a girl reading the bible to her maternal grandfather. She sometimes takes a walk down the same hill towards the cemetery and that vineyard where as a girl she would pick grapes to make homemade jelly. We were born here, are buried here and will be on this land forever. So, no matter how many Romney supporters pass through Levytown on the way to their condo or estate that now occupies a large part of this sacred land, there is NOTHING they can do to erase the majesty of my family heritage. Nothing.
The Legacy of Levytown will live on forever and the country will move forward tomorrow with the re-election of President Barak H. Obama. And when things have settled down in Washington and around the country, and it’s all quiet again, and they can fit it on the official schedule, I’d like to invite POTUS and the First Family on down to LEVYTOWN to sit back and enjoy a little southern hospitality.
I’m Sharon Drake, and I approved this message.