Linda Woods’ Story
Have I ever told you the story of how you got your name? You are named after the Ella Fitzgerald. You needed a name fit for the strong, African-American woman you are becoming. Like the Queen of Jazz you will leave your own legacy. Do you know how many generations our family has lived in Dayton? Our legacy all started when your great-great-grandparents moved from Atlanta. All these years later we are still here in Edgemont. But things were different then. Dayton was a different city then.
People came to Dayton because it was a place you could start from nothing. A place you could get a job. Man, woman, black, white, it didn’t matter! Dayton was a place for anyone willing to work. Edgemont was a tight-knight black community, a village of people willing to help each other out. That is until the highway split us up into Carillon and Edgemont. That caused some changes, being separated from your neighbors. Before, you could walk down the street to go to the grocery store. Things started changing. When the jobs went away, everything else followed. Stores started closing, houses started to fall apart, and so did the people who lived there.
Despite this, Dayton offers so much for you. The youth, including you Ella, are the future of this city. You one day will go to Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, just like all your grandparents, cousins, and mother have done. I know if you walk down some streets in our neighborhood, you see all of the blight and hardship suffered in Dayton. But, know that you are supported by your family and this community. It takes a village to raise a child, and if your family is close, that’s your village. We are your village. You adopt people, people adopt you. Carry yourself well and people will be kind to you. We need to build this community back up. Regardless of what happened to us, we are still here.
Most of us are “old” people here hanging on, but you are the youth. Dayton is still a working woman’s town and I want you to know that you have the support of your community to get the education and skills you need to succeed and give back to Dayton.
This story originally appeared in Facing Dayton: Neighborhood Narratives, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.