Corpus Christi’s historic African-American neighborhoods of Hillcrest and Washington-Coles have endured decades of injustice: Redlining and housing segregation, industrial waste and environmental pollution, isolation and neglect from public services. Now, the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Corpus Christi want to build a new bridge directly through the neighborhood, further separating residents from the rest of the city and exacerbating environmental, health and housing inequalities. A Title VI federal civil rights complaint seeks to prevent the construction of the bridge from adding to the neighborhood’s legacy of mistreatment.
You can read our report on the historical context of discrimination against the Northside for more background. In collaboration with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the nonprofit legal services organization behind the Title VI complaint, we produced this short documentary featuring Northside residents and community advocates. It provides a firsthand account of the damage to personal and community health that Hillcrest and Washington-Coles have already suffered, and how the Harbor Bridge, if the current proposal is carried out, could be the final nail in the Northside’s coffin.
The video features longtime Northside residents Jestine Knox (known as the “mayor of Hillcrest”), Daniel Peña, Lamont Taylor and Alfred Bradley, as well as Errol Summerlin, a retired attorney formerly with TRLA in Corpus Christi who now volunteers with the Citizens Alliance for Fairness and Progress, the community coalition to protect the Northside. Erin Gaines, an Equal Justice Works fellow at TRLA involved in the Title VI complaint, and Melissa Beeler, a community planner here at Texas Housers who wrote our report on the Northside and has extensively studied the community, are also interviewed.
Additionally, you can watch Dr. Debbie Niemeier, a professor at the University of California, Davis serving as TRLA’s environmental expert, explain how the construction of the Harbor Bridge would increase the already dangerous levels of benzene on the Northside: