Tuesday March 1st was an exciting day in Chelsea. The Neighborhood Developers (TND) hosted a ribbon cutting for their latest project, Lewis Latimer Place. The energy efficient project will house young at-risk parents and also provide support services through TND’s partnership with ROCA. The four sun-filled new homes were awaiting only the ceremony’s conclusion to receive the new families. But they weren’t the only families benefiting from this project.
While walking through each new home, I envisioned all the hours invested into the development. Many people took on this project not only to provide young at-risk families with quality housing, but also to recognize the contributions made to society by Lewis Latimer. Historical sleuths Leo and Ron Robinson were on hand to recount their efforts to revive Mr. Latimer’s story, which starts with his parents, who were runaway slaves, settling in Chelsea. The Neighborhood Developers installed a plaque commemorating his birth on the very grounds of these new homes, and will help to further legitimize the Robinson’s campaign to establish Lewis Latimer’s legacy as a scientist, poet, engineer, inventor and resident of Chelsea .
At the end of the day, when it was my turn to pick up my kids and go home they spotted the small flashlight I received from the event with “Lewis Latimer Place” emblazoned on it (Mr. Latimer helped invent some of the technology that is now used in lightbulbs). They asked me what it was and why I had it. Attending the ribbon cutting provided me a chance to talk to my children about slavery, determination and the importance of recognizing heroes from our past that may have been overlooked. In simple terms, I spoke to them about freedom, and about Latimer’s work drawing up the first phone to which my seven-year-old daughter suggested “he should keep the phone and download games on it”.
Congratulations to The Neighborhood Developers for building housing for our community’s more vulnerable and thank you for helping preserve our nation’s history.