Flag Wars

PBS Premiere: June 17, 2003Check the broadcast schedule »

Talking Back: Columbus, OH Responds

Doug, Old Oaks resident:

"I participate and I try to give back to the best of my ability to my community. I'm a gay man. I've had a loving partner for five years. I have every right to be in my community and in my home as anyone else does....I've gone out to everyone, and I know everyone, and I participate in their lives. And I think that that's what it takes is just getting to know all the people and doing what you can to be a good person, a good neighbor, to be decent and to live your life to the best of your ability."

"A lot of times there's the question of 'white flight.' In other words, there was a movement before the current movement. There was a change before this change ... That was a factor moving into that neighborhood when I moved in. I was the second black family on my street. And when the little neighbor boy came into my house and told my mother that he had to move because 'the niggers were moving in.' Right? ... it hit us that a change was going on. And that was the change before the change."


"You moved back into the community that you lived in before. When you came back in, it wasn't your community anymore. You were the intruder. Just like the niggers that moved into your neighborhood. You were the intruder. So don't expect anybody to come and shake your hand, pat you on the back, and tell you how good it was of you to come in and move into our neighborhood and make it a better neighborhood for everybody. Because when we move out to your neighborhoods, we don't get that."

Nina Masseria, Carriage Trade Realty:

"The beauty of is that as a team we can accomplish so much, but if we sit here and argue about who said what and who did what -- does somebody not in this room just want equal rights for everybody, no matter who the hell they are?"

Kevin, resident:

"I'm a part of the Black community and I'm a part of the gay community, and I don't know if it were Black gays moving in, would this movie be made? Or, if it were Latino gays or, any other kind of gay person -- is it the 'gay', or is it the color? I'm confused."

Rubin, Olde Towne East resident:

"I get very concerned when I see well-intentioned White people show their true colors. And the more you push a liberal, the more they -- they will really come out. Very interesting. So, now a writer said that liberal and progressive people have a great sense of justice, but little sense of injustice. And -- and I think that's the case that we see here."

Nina Masseria:

"When I moved to the neighborhood in 1979, you could ride the rats down the alley at night when when your car lights hit it. So, we still don't have the same services. But there has not been adequate code enforcement. If something's broken on your house and it doesn't meet code, and it costs $100 to fix, but you wait 20 years to tell them about it, it's probably going to cost 20 or $30,000 to fix. When this house was in absolute terrible shape on the inside, no human being should have been living inside that house. The system failed. We failed."

Linda Mitchell's sister-in-law:

"Linda would have not been in that home that she held so dear had it not been for some of these White faces up here, fighting like hell for her. Now they helped her find funding. She didn't necessarily want to stay in her home, the only home the child knew. She loved that home. But it wasn't about bricks, and mortar, and marble. It was about her momma and daddy, and her daddy got up every day and he went to work and he had three jobs, and he bought that home and they were proud of it. But Linda, God love her heart, toward the end of her illness, really believed that her momma and her daddy were coming back there someday to get her, and one day last May they finally did. Those angels came and took her home and she's not suffering anymore. But Linda couldn't have stayed there without the help that she had."

Patsy Thomas, Columbus City Councilmember:

"I don't want anyone to think that we're not dealing with racism, because we are. Because you have the stereotype, you've said something to the other person, so when you walk by -- down the street, you walk -- you're just walking it and not realizing who that person is. It's your neighbor. They live two doors down from you. But we're not treating each others as neighbors."

Arthur, Columbus resident:
I think it's not about Black and White, it's about green. That's what it all boils down to. It's about people that have something, and those don't have anything. I think for the community to move forward, they have to look at the people that don't have anything and try to bring them up to the same standards.