Summerhill Neighborhood Development Corporation (SNDC) is a community development corporation operating in the Summerhill community in the City of Atlanta. SNDC was organized in 1988 to provide a coordinated response to the banking practice of “redlining” - the refusal of conventional mortgage credit in low-income communities. The history of this neighborhood and community shape our organization's mission.
A Rich and Thriving Community
Summerhill is one of two settlements established after the Civil War by William Jennings in 1865. The neighborhood is bounded by I-75 and Pollard on the west, Fulton and I-20 on the north, Grant Terrace and Connally on the east, and Ormond on the South. Summerhill is connected to three adjoining neighborhoods: Grant Park to the east, Mechanicsville to the west, and Peoplestown to the south. Summerhill is the neighborhood that encompasses Turner field.
Summerhill’s early inhabitants were freed slaves and Jewish immigrants.Summerhill was once considered the most prosperous African American neighborhood in Atlanta and was not only a stable residential community, but had affluence. Summerhill’s rich history includes the fact that it was once home to some of Atlanta’s most influential business and civic leaders including:
• Sam Massell, former Mayor (1970-1974)
• Herman Russell, founder of the HJ Construction Company
• S.W. Walker, founder of Pilgrim Life Insurance Company
• Evander Holyfield, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
• Leon Eplan, city planner
The Decline of Summerhill
There are many factors that contributed to the decline of Summerhill beginning in the 1960’s. Urban renewal, major league baseball, redlining, riots, and suburban flight have each contributed to the decline of the Summerhill neighborhood over the years. Urban Renewal was not kind to Summerhill. Like neighboring Mechanicsville and Peoplestown, Summerhill fell victim to economic and political pressures beyond its control. As Atlanta grew to the north and west, the more affluent moved to larger lots with bigger houses. By the 1960s, Summerhill was inhabited by African Americans who were in the lower socio-economic bracket, and its housing stock had become victim to absentee landlords’ lack of maintenance.
In 1966, a riot occurred in Summerhill over the shooting of a black male by the police. The four day riot in Summerhill was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and its leader, Stokely Carmichael. The riots resulted in one death and twenty injuries, and revealed the frustrations still present in lower-income black communities despite decades of growing black political influence. This incident gave Summerhill national attention but, more importantly, served to galvanize the residents into civic action which resulted in the formation of a neighborhood organization, Summerhill Neighborhood Inc.
History And Evolution of Organization
For the first 20 years, SNDC was a small organization with a staff of 2-4 full time employees focused on housing development and homeownership for low and moderate income buyers, and, starting six years ago, intergenerational programs and services. Under new leadership in the last five years, the organization has grown in scope and service in response Summerhill resident’s needs. SNDC continues to expand its service areas and policy work in issues which are proven to have long-term effects on comprehensive community revitalization, including: affordable housing, economic development, transportation funding, education of system actors, and a renewed energy in issue-based and grassroots consensus organizing (i.e., SMP, Stadium Neighborhood TAD, Braves/Turner Field Redevelopment).