“The most important thing they sold other than records was candy,” Lansing native Adolf Burton says. “It was just packed full of little kids, including me because I lived right down the street. So we came in here and got candy.”
Burton still has fond memories of his childhood in Lansing’s Westside corridor, and this weekend he’s sharing that history with people who can’t see it for themselves as part of the city’s Juneteenth celebrations.
Historians say roughly 800 homes in black neighborhoods were lost to make room for I-496 during the 1960’s. Burton’s family found a creative way to stay: his family purchased a home and put it on the back of a truck to move it to a vacant lot across the street not far from where the highway currently stands.
Others weren’t so lucky. Many left their homes and businesses to move to the south side of Lansing.
And as the older residents pass away, coordinators of the Pave the Way don’t want that history to fade.
“Their children and their children are still speaking highly of the west side and what that meant, and being connected to family and friends,” Greta McHaney-Trice says. “People watching out for each other, clubs, businesses where they knew the people, and they knew they had a sense of belonging.”
With tours later this week and again in July, the city and the Lansing Historical Society are hoping that people will take away a sense of community that was once here in the west corridor.