AFRICATOWN’s Railroad “Informational” meeting on 2/29/2024

AFRICATOWN’s Railroad “Informational” meeting on 2/29/2024

Africatown parents, years ago, in order to keep their kids safe from bad elements that existed outside of our Africatown Community, would tell us “Do Not Go Across the Tracks”. However, today that phrase is not relevant to the safety of Africatown residents because “The Tracks are coming Closer to the Africatown Residents.”

About 100 interested people showed up for a meeting on February 29th at The Robert Hope Community Center in Africatown to be informed and talk about a proposal to install nearly 2 additional miles of railroad tracks near the residential areas of The Historic Africatown Community. In addition to Africatown residents attending the meeting, there were people from North Mobile County, West Mobile and other parts of the surrounding areas there because they have love for the community. They either were born there, have relatives there, went to school there or are interested in preserving the community intact for the world to come see and enjoy. Most of them believe as I do, which is, Africatown is a ” living dinosaur” and our job is to protect it from desecration.

Some attendees believed as I did, That this meeting would be similar to the Town Hall Meeting held a few weeks before this meeting by The Alabama Department of Environmental Management in which ADEM & the business the complaint was filed against (Hosea Weaver) had informational stations set up around the room that the attendees could visit and ask questions but there also was time set up for those that wanted to express themselves could do so for a maximum of 5 minutes. This meeting was truly “all informational”. The meeting consisted of power point presentations by The Alabama State Port Authority & The U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Railroad Administration. After their presentations were done, those in attendance were invited to visit the various stations around the room to learn more, ask questions and write down any concerns they had about the project. The Alabama State Port Authority passed out a sheet that contained answers to frequently asked questions. The most troublesome and misleading answer I saw was to the question, “Does this project impact historic areas”. The answer was, “The potential for adverse impacts to Africatown’s historic resources are currently being evaluated in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Public input is a vital part of this evaluation. However, it should be noted that the project is located outside of the existing limits of the federally designated Africatown Historic District”. This project is OUTSIDE of Africatown’s Historic District only because The Port of Mobile did not want their land included as part of Africatown’s Historic District. In addition, the project is very close to residential homes and Africatown’s Historic School within the historic district. Unfortunately for Africatown residents, The Africatown Historic District is only about 40% of where Africatown residents live and about 20% of the entire Africatown Planning Area.

Quite a number of Africatown supporters left disappointed because they had come to the meeting with a lot they wanted to say and was not given the opportunity to express themselves verbally. I include myself as one of those people. Its unfortunate, but most residents will not take the time to write their opinions and questions down and turn them in later. They would rather express themselves at an open microphone rather than put something in writing. Africatown’s CHESS environmental organization will continue to collaborate with other local and national environmental organizations to push for more transparency within the community and more open community meetings.
Dr. Major Joe Womack USMCR (ret.)
Executive Director of


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