Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Black History Month: Dorothy Richardson and Robert Fludd

Every February we celebrate and honor the contributions made by African Americans to United States History. Two individuals in particular have had significant impacts, both nationally and locally, on the work that Origin does.

Dorothy Richardson

Dorothy Richardson was a Pittsburgh, PA resident, who refused to allow her neighborhood to succumb to the long-term effects of decay and lack of public and private investment in the mid-1960s. Through her hard work and determination, she established the first Neighborhood Housing Services and laid the foundation for what is known today as NeighborWorks America. 

Dorothy’s vision of how to revitalize and preserve her neighborhood resulted, more than 40 years ago, in a new kind of community/government/private sector partnership, the first “Neighborhood Housing Services.” Dorothy’s success changed the nation's approach to urban redevelopment and spawned the new field of community-based development; the model of partnership she pioneered became the foundation for today’s NeighborWorks America network.  Origin SC is proud to be part of its network of more than 240 organizations, and in honor of Black History Month, we want to recognize Dorothy Richardson, also known as the “mother of community development.” Learn more about Dorothy Richardson here.

Robert Fludd

Robert Fludd is the director of the Liberty Hill Improvement Afterschool Literacy Program, located here in North Charleston, SC. In honor of Black History Month, Origin SC wants to recognize Fludd for his leadership within the community. 
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from – your background doesn’t determine where you’re going,” -Robert Fludd
At one point, Fludd decided to leave teaching for a better paying job at a Fortune 500 company, but he felt empty and dissatisfied. His father’s illness brought him back to his roots, and when Fludd’s father passed, he decided to resign from that position and pursue working on a political campaign for the then-Senator Obama. It was through this that Fludd mobilized community after community, with every precinct he worked in voting more than 90% for our current President. After President Obama’s election, Fludd was asked to be the President of the Liberty Hill Improvement Council.

Liberty Hill is the oldest community in what is now North Charleston, South Carolina. In 1864, one year prior to the official end of slavery in the United States, Paul and Harriet Trescot, “free persons of color,” owned 112 acres of land – called Liberty Hill. Once a vibrant, founding community, it is now an area of blight. 

In 2010, Robert Fludd identified a need in the North Charleston community after reading an article in the newspaper about how high school students in our area were reading at 3rd and 4th grade levels. It immediately sparked the idea of a literacy program focused on reading skills for those in elementary school. Within that first year, 100% of the students showed progress on their state MAP testing. The following year, the program added 20 kids. And they added math to the program at the request of the local schools. With the help of volunteers, the program grew to 60 kids in 2013, and the City of North Charleston began to assist with transportation from the schools to the after school program. The Liberty Hill Literacy Program is now a thriving after school program with more than 100 children from the Liberty Hill community and surrounding areas.  

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