Video by Chris James
The pastor of a church in a historically black neighborhood in Oklahoma City is upset with city and University of Oklahoma officials over rezoning measures.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., pastor of the East Sixth Street Christian Church, 1139 NE 6 St., said the JFK neighborhood has evolved a lot over the last 100 years.
The neighborhood’s boundaries stretch from NE 1 to NE 8 and Martin Luther King Blvd. to Lincoln Blvd. The area has seen a lot of construction with new Oklahoma Health Center and plans for a new $25 million Embassy Suites hotel to be built on NE 8 and Phillips Avenue.
Jackson said residents of the community aren’t looking for financial handouts or standing in the way of progress. They simply want to be a part of the planning and discussion with city officials and OU, he said.
“We’re seeking economic justice for these people,” Jackson said. “We’re at the point now that we want people just to be treated fairly.”
He said while he understands progress in the neighborhood is inevitable, he doesn’t want to see residents run over.
“The homeowners or people occupied here no longer have any money,” Jackson said. “We’re taking care of others who can’t take care of themselves. Who is going to give a mortgage to an elderly person who is in their late 70’s?”
Jackson said he and other members of the community want to work with Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and OU. Jackson said he has seen some support from Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis.
“When you have sentimental issues,” Jackson said. “You have to be a bit more careful with it as opposed to an economic issue.
“It’s always different when it’s in your backyard.”