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Lansing Wins Federal Grant to Document African-American Displacement in 1960's

highway sign
Flickr - Doug Kerr
The city of Lansing is using a federal grant to document the impact the I-496 construction project had on African-American residents in the 1960's.

The city of Lansing will use a federal grant to document how the I-496 expressway impacted African-American families uprooted by the project. 

The construction of Interstate 496 began in 1963.  By the time the project was finished in 1970, more than 840 homes and businesses in the heart of Lansing’s African-American neighborhood had been demolished. 

Lansing will use a $39,400 National Park Service grant to study the project’s legacy. 

Lansing resident Adolf Burton was a child when the highway project began.

“We moved from the south side of St. Jo(seph) to the north side of 1963,” Burton recalls.  “We purchased a lot, dug a hole and purchased one of the homes that was getting torn down and moved it across the street.  My sister currently still lives in that house yet today.”

Historians say the completion of I-496 accelerated “white flight” and increased redlining in Lansing.  The project will re-create a virtual online representation of what the city looked like before the highway was built.





Kevin Lavery served as a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered before retiring in 2023.
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