By Samuetta Hill Drew
In the spring of 2014, four (4) neighbors living in the old historic neighborhood of Smithfield on 10th Avenue North met at Our Lady Queen of Universe and decided to form an old fashion “Block Club.” Meeting at the church seemed to be a no brainer since the church is located within the block and would directly benefit from the efforts of its surrounding neighbors. The residents meet regularly and discuss ways they can enhance and protect their homes/properties while enjoying each other’s friendship like neighborhoods in the past. As you know, the largest financial investment for the average American is their home and home ownership is embedded in the American dream, so enhancing ones’ property while enjoying a sense of community is as American as “apple pie.”
You see, these neighbors were already neighborly and displayed a sense of community pride in the care of their homes. Pride and a sense of community aren’t new to residents of Smithfield because Smithfield has the unique distinction of being a neighborhood whose residents influenced the world in the arena of civil rights during the ’60s. In the late ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s, this neighborhood was considered the most affluent and influential neighborhood for African Americans in the State of Alabama. Its residents included the “who’s who” of African American attorneys, judges, educators, businessmen, politicians and civil right activists. It was and continues to be the home of A.H. Parker High School, once the largest high school in the world for African American students, so pride is nothing new for the residents living in this historic neighborhood.
The architectural structures built doing the aforementioned eras included porches, so in November of 2014, the neighbors decided to host its first “Meet and Greet” fall social on the porches of Mrs. Linda White, Mrs. Corliss Adams, Ms. Samuetta H. Drew, Mr. Albert Carter and Mrs. Martha McDowell. A family member from all eight residents participated. They included Mrs. Linda Powell, Mrs. Chandra Tims, Mrs. Katherine Williams and representatives from the church, Mr. and Mrs. Orville Iffil. The food was delicious and the fellowship was great! Everyone ate, laughed and had a wonderful afternoon.