The DeLand Legacy in Jackson

The DeLand family name is alive and well in Jackson, Michigan today, and the family can be proud of its heritage.

Charles DeLand

Charles DeLand, born in 1828 in Massachusetts, was a Civil War hero and settled in Jackson after the war.  His homestead was located on the northeast corner of the intersection of S. Mechanic St. and W. Franklin St.

DeLand homestead jackson michigan

If that location sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the location of our new Habitat neighborhood development slated to break ground this spring (2021). You can read about that project here.

DeLand was a pioneer, humanitarian and writer. In his day, he was well-known for things like editing a newspaper called the American Citizen, which evolved into the Jackson Citizen Patriot. He was an anti-slavery advocate. In his newspaper, he fought against slavery with his words. In addition, DeLand was one of the founding members of the Republican party in Jackson in 1854.

But he also participated in an activity that he had to keep secret for obvious reasons. Charles DeLand was a ‘conductor’ in the Underground Railroad and harbored runaway slaves in his home and transported them to safe houses along their route to freedom. For this he is now known as a true hero who risked his life and the lives of his family to take part in righting an extreme injustice done to the ancestors of people who live among us in our county today.

We just passed through Black History month, and we’re honored to be picking up the pace on a project named after someone who stood up for black people during a time when doing so meant risking his life. This legacy of Charles DeLand is in line with the values of Habitat for Humanity. Habitat was born on a farm in Americus, Georgia, called Koinonia. Koinonia was an inclusive homestead that welcomed people of all races and backgrounds, something that was not only unpopular at the time, but outright dangerous. Koinonia’s commitment to racial equality caused retaliation from the surrounding community, including shootings, boycotting, bombs, and harassment from the KKK.

We’re honored to share values with someone who courageously took part in a risky movement that saved countless lives and helped put an end to the worst practice of inhumanity our country has ever known. In that honor, we named our first Habitat neighborhood after Charles V. DeLand.

We Celebrate Black History Month

 

black history month banner

Black History Month is especially significant this year as events from 2020 highlighted how far we still have to go to create a world where there is equal opportunity for everyone. People of color, African Americans in particular, are behind by generations in terms of equality. This disparity can be seen in every sector: health care, education, employment, and especially housing.

Discrimination in US housing policy as recent as a few decades ago kept Black people from being able to have access to credit, buy homes, live in better neighborhoods, move up in class and build wealth. Because of this, there is a wide racial gap in homeownership rates today: 74% of White people in the US own homes vs. 44% of Black people. The wealth gap is even greater.

Historic discrimination in U.S. housing policy — particularly discrimination against Black Americans — is one of the chief drivers of racial inequities that persist today. Organizations like Habitat that work on housing must understand that history, and it must inform our work moving forward. … We must commit to doing the work in our practices, our programs and our networks that brings equity to our efforts and helps bring justice to the communities in which we work. We must, throughout our ministry, do a better job of connecting issues of racial and social injustice with historic barriers to affordable housing and working to eradicate those barriers. … In addition to being a space where people of all races, all faiths and all backgrounds can come together in common cause, we commit to being actively antiracist and to affirming, through word and action, that Black Lives Matter and that our communities and systems must further this fundamental truth.

–Jonathan Reckford, CEO Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity International published a policy paper in August 2020 that describes the history of housing discrimination in the US and how that history still impacts Black families today. The paper includes recommendations as we look to find meaningful ways to create a more racially equitable and just society.

Click here to read the document, and please reach out to let us know your thoughts. 

Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It’s going to take more than building houses to make that happen. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. With your help, we believe we can get there.