Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Were They: The Wimawalas

In August of 1950, the Atlanta Daily World reported the plight of a New Orleans citizen group -- the Wimawalas -- who were trying to prevent the expansion of the Magnolia Housing Project into their neighborhood, encompassed by Willow and Magnolia Streets, and Washington and Louisiana Avenues.

President Harry Truman had just approved some $26.5 million to be utilized for public housing in New Orleans, and the municipal housing authority wanted to enlarge the four existing projects using these funds.

The Wimawalas' founder and spokesperson, Mrs. Ida W. Johnson, conveyed to the press:

'This is not a slums neighborhood. Many of us moved into this community 40 or 50 years ago when it was nothing. Now we have built it up and have invested thousands of dollars in our homes. Naturally, we resent any movement which will force us out. Then, too, another question presents itself: Where are we going?'

The google-generated satellite image of the site today:

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[Image uppper left: Digital reproduction from glass lantern slide of the New Orleans neighborhood bounded by Louisiana Avenue and Third Street, Magnolia and S. Liberty Streets, c. 1937. Tulane School of Architecture Glass Lantern Slide Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.]

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