Do you remember in school there was generally a bully in every class? Someone a little experienced in the art of intimidation, size, and pugilism who would wreak fear and havoc on his or her peers. A bullies primary weapons were fear and intimidation. As we matured, bullies also matured and altered their tactics money can be used to get one’s way, regardless of the cost to the rank and file.
Who stands up for the rank and file? Who or what is the voice who represents those who do not have the deep pockets? In St. Louis, Virginia, a small historic community right outside of Middleburg, VA, there is an ongoing fight with a bully called MOJAX Developers. MOJAX purchased land and now wants to build 30 new houses in this community.
St. Louis, VA, originally was a freed slave community. The land was given to freed slaves to build homes and make a living. The property itself was not prime land as the soil is not suitable for farming, and there is a low water table. This land remained in African American families until urban development begins to reach the small village of St. Louis. St. Louis is home to Mt Zion Baptist Church and African American church founded over 134 years ago by some of the freed slaves. As urban expansion began to reach St. Louis, new homes went up. These new homes were built on land that ancestors of the freed slaves sold to developers. As new, more expensive homes went up, property taxes also went up, which had the domino effect of many ancestral families selling their land and homes. The church population is a fraction of the size it used to be.
The face of St Louis is changing, and MOJAX developers want to accelerate that change by building 27 – 30 new homes in a once predominately African American Community. How do you win a fight with a man who has millions? I have learned over the years; the best way to fight a bully is to stand up to them. Individual fights against a bully with deep pockets will amount to futility and a quick knock-out. Collectively if the St. Louis Community Black and White unite with letters to our elected leaders, protests and exposure of the impact this development would have on the culture and history of St. Louis maybe we can slow the change and allow freed slave ancestors to remain on the land that was given to families.
You fight a bully by exposure, by unifying, and as a pastor, I must add by prayer. If you read the Bible Israel, God’s chosen people were often outnumbered and outgunned, but prayers always caused the odds to tip in the Israelites favor. St. Louis, we have a lot of weapons and options available to us. A fight is never won by sitting on the sidelines and being unwilling to take a stand. The best way to stand up to a bully is to stand up!