Bringing Back A Historic African-American Community

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- It's a partnership from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast.  Masters' students from New York University's, Robert F. Wagner's School of Public Service, are helping the historic Quarters community in Gulfport chart out its future.

"When the community gets involved and really gets some backing and realizes it's a can-do situation, it's going to be a great-bright future," says Edward Daniels with the Quarters Group.

A team of five came down in early January on a week-long fact finding mission.  They collected information across 428 lots in the community to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the area.  Four months later the group came back with a manual ready to help the community.

"I've never been so inspired by a group of people who know who they are," says John Saunders a NYU Student.

"We had lawyers.  We had teachers.  We had a drug store.  We had a movie theatre.  It was the place to be," says Gayle Tart, Attorney for Quarters Group.

Some of the recommendations the group suggested included cultural tourism.

"They need to the know rich vibrant history that we have in our neighborhood.  If we had a walking tour to show them, maybe they would come into our neighborhood," says Tart.

The group also suggested ways to development green space.

"The Brickyard Bayou, I think, is just a wonderful idea.  It could be a passage way for people to walk and enjoy the brickyard Bayou compared to what it has been in the past," says Daniels.

Another recommendation touched on ways to build the community's economic strength.

"You really want to help a community thrive and become a viable entity by making sure the money that's here, stays here," says Saunders.

After taking in the group's suggestions, those who attended say it's time to get moving to restore their community.

The Mississippi Center for Justice helped organize the project for the group.  In addition to the Quarters, the group also laid out plans for the Soria City Community and presented them Saturday morning.