West End Revitalization Association Celebrate 19th Anniversary

The West End Revitalization Association (WERA), a community development corporation founded in 1994 in Mebane in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, celebrated its 19th anniversary on Friday, November 15 with its annual dinner at K&W Cafeteria in Burlington, North Carolina.  WERA was founded by concerned Mebane residents when they received word that the North Carolina Department of Transportation, with the full cooperation Alamance County and Mebane officials, planned to run a highway bypass through the predominantly African American community of West End.  The plan would require the destruction of almost thirty homes and St. Luke Christian Church, which was founded by former slaves.  In an effort to fight the proposed bypass, WERA filed administrative civil rights and environmental justice complaints in 1999 with the U. S. Department of Justice to stop the City of Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration from proceeding with the destruction of their community for the sake of the bypass without any input from the affected homeowners or plans for their relocation. WERA alleged that these government entities had planned for and were proceeding with the proposed highway bypass in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 12898, signed by President Clinton in 1994 to address environmental justice issues in so-called minority communities.

 At the 19th Annual Dinner on November 15, several dedicated community members dined on a delicious Friday evening meal as they shared memories of years past in the environmental justice struggle and the successes and hardships that they had encountered along the way.  During the dinner, Mr. Omega R. Wilson, WERA’s President & Project Manager, recognized the invaluable contributions of long-standing board members and community residents Ms. Evon Connally, Mr. Donald Tate, Ms. Marilyn Snipes, Ms. Rachel Hester, Ms. Patricia Torain, Mr. Joe Johnson, and Ms. Chartarsha Garner.  There was also some updates regarding the acquisition of property in the community regarding the proposed highway bypass.  Near the conclusion of the celebration dinner, Mr. Omari M. Wilson, an attorney at the Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) in downtown Durham, North Carolina, presented Omega Wilson with the Fruit of the Land award which was given in recognition of Mr. Wilson’s collaboration with LLPP in the environmental justice movement.  Omega Wilson had been chosen with three other honorees to receive The Fruit of the Land award as a part of LLPP’s 30th Anniversary Reception on October 11 at the NCCU School of Law.

For more information about WERA, please visit www.wera-nc.org.

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