Building Black-Latino Trust
We'd been there. We'd been ostracized. And so why do that to somebody else when you know how that feels.
- Barbara Simpson, long-time member of Grier Heights Presbyterian Church
We did not know each other. Now we treat each other as equals. If we see each other on the road we wave at one another.
- Simon Martinez, Mexican native who moved to Grier Heights in 1997
In the mid-1990s, the African American neighborhood of Grier Heights saw a large influx of Latino immigrants. Tensions rose. African Americans felt the new residents disrupted community life. Latinos felt unwelcome and harassed.
Members of Grier Heights Presbyterian Church decided to take action. They asked for advice from Willie Ratchford, the African American leader of Charlotte's Community Relations Committee, and Jose Hernandez-Paris, a Colombian immigrant who headed Charlotte's International House. Soon the communities began meeting.