Mary Bishop Interview (not verbatim)

1. How do you feel that the urban renewal projects have affected Roanoke’s black community?

- They did not get as much money for their property as they should have, and many of them went into debt. This is what destroyed the community. The had to move into different neighborhoods within NE, whites then moved out of NW. There was a lot of advertising that neighborhood to make it look bad.

2. Do you feel there are there any positive things that came from the Urban Renewal?

-Not really. The best she heard from people was that now they were living in safer houses, but they were still expensive. The city had punished the black tenants for the white landlords’ negligence.

3. Where did the evicted families stay during construction?

-Houses that were already built or public housing like Lincoln Terrace or Lansdown. White people gradually moved away from those areas because of blockbusting

4. Do you feel like the public was misled as far as what Urban Renewal meant for Roanoke? How?

-There was not much contact to the black community. Whites weren’t really mislead blacks were. There was only a very small part of Gainsboro which got redone.  

5. Do you think that there is racism at the root of the idea of Roanoke’s Urban Renewal?

- They took down everything and did not leave any memorial or anything left to stand for the people that used to live there.

6. How did she get started writing about the Urban Renewal?

-In 1991, she had to cover a neighborhood reunion of people who had lived in NE Roanoke. Through meeting these people she learned about the Urban Renewal and where they used to live. This intrigued her to wanting to write a story on it.The Norfolk paper had never covered what happened before out of embarrassment.