Canvassing for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on November 5 took us to the central Toledo, Ohio neighborhood around the Frederick Douglass Community Center.
Although I was raised in Toledo, I am unfamiliar with this neighborhood. I spent most of my life in East Toledo as a child and then in Sylvania during my high school and college years.
The neighborhood has been described in the following way:
“The blocks around the Frederick Douglass Community Center in central Toledo haven’t felt much of the so-called economic recovery. In the hood, the recession is permanent, with real unemployment rates nearing 50 percent. Vacant buildings and homes, some havens for drug dealing or scavenging for copper and aluminum, lace the neighborhoods.”
Many addresses on our list simply did not exist anymore. Instead, we found empty lots where homes once were, but had been abandoned and razed to the ground. We saw overgrown lawns and sidewalks overtaken by grass.
The empty lots lay scattered in between abandoned houses and homes mostly occupied by elderly residents.
Even the local church was abandoned and boarded up.
It was hard to reconcile how such an impoverished area might feel excited to vote. It got me thinking more about how economic status might – or might not – be an indicator of civic engagement.
It was apparent, however, that this community, albeit challenged, was ready and prepared to do the needful come November 8.
The residents we spoke to committed their votes to Hillary, but not without expressing their disdain for Trump, which was potent, real, and fully infused with the notion of “we can’t let Trump happen.”